Indians sign catcher George Kottaras

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Could this mean Santana's days of playing catcher are finished?

The Indians have signed catcher George Kottaras to a minor-league deal. Kottaras is a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, who spent 2013 with Kansas City, but has also played for Oakland, Milwaukee, and Boston in his career. He'd been in camp with the Cubs this spring, but was released a few days ago.

Kottaras has been a little better than league average as a hitter over the last 3 years, which is pretty good for a catcher. Digging into his numbers a little further, he has not been able to hit lefties, but has done better against righties. Avert your eyes when looking at his career .214 batting average, and focus instead on his strong walk rate (14.0%, which would have ranked 3rd in the AL last season behind Mike Trout and Carlos Santana) and pop (.192 ISO, better than anyone on the Tribe last year except for Ryan Raburn).

While it's a minor-league deal, this signing doesn't make a lot of sense, if the plan is to send him to the minors. The Indians have great organizational depth there, and don't need more veterans slowing down the climb of legitimate prospects. Therefore, I think the plan in signing him is to add him to the 25-man roster, to serve as Yan Gomes' backup. That would mean Santana wouldn't be expected to play there anymore, which seems like another sign that the team is serious about him being the team's third baseman basically full time.

If Kottaras is added, can the team really carry Giambi and eight relievers? I'd say no. There would be too little flexibility for the infield and outfield. Kottaras has more power than the team's other bench options, including maybe even Giambi at this point. I'm very interested to see how other dominos are tipped by this move.

Recent stats:
Year Age Tm G PA H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 28 MIL 49 123 28 6 1 5 10 26 .252 .311 .459 .771 107
2012 29 MIL 58 116 18 4 0 3 29 24 .209 .409 .360 .769 108
2012 29 OAK 27 93 18 2 1 6 8 24 .212 .280 .471 .750 106
2013 30 KCR 46 126 18 4 0 5 24 42 .180 .349 .370 .719 98

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

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