Erik Kratz Rumors

Phillies Sign Erik Kratz To Minor League Deal

The Phillies announced that they have signed catcher Erik Kratz to a minor league contract. Earlier today, Kratz’s agents at Jackson Management Group tweeted that their client had agreed to terms with a new team — they declined to specify which club — meaning he’s now been in four organizations in one month’s time.

Signing with the Phillies marks a homecoming for the veteran Kratz in more ways than one. For starters, the 35-year-old is a native of Telford, Penn. and attended high school in nearby Lansdale — both of which are roughly an hour outside of Philadelphia. The Phillies are also the team that gave Kratz his first significant taste of Major League action. Though he actually debuted with Pennsylvania’s other big league squad, Kratz totaled just 36 plate appearances in his 2010 debut with Pittsburgh.

Kratz has 537 plate appearances at the Major League level — 381 of which have come as a member of the Phillies. From 2011-13, Kratz batted .230/.291/.436 for the Phillies and showed impressive power with a .206 ISO and 18 homers while serving primarily as a backup to Carlos Ruiz.

Kratz began the year with the Royals but has since been designated for assignment and claimed by the Red Sox. Boston again designated Kratz shortly after, and he then signed with the Mariners. However, Kratz opted out of that deal when it became apparent that he wouldn’t get a look on the big league roster. Over the course of his career, Kratz is a .217/.270/.400 hitter that has caught 31 percent of attempted base-stealers and graded out well in terms of pitch-framing metrics.

Mariners Release Erik Kratz After He Opts Out Of Deal

TODAY: Kratz opted out of his deal when he learned he would not receive a promotion, per a tweet from his representatives at J.M.G. Baseball.

YESTERDAY: The Mariners have released catcher Erik Kratz, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). Kratz had been playing at Triple-A since being released by the Royals and signing a minor league deal with Seattle.

Given this morning’s report that the Mariners were nearing a deal to acquire a backstop, it would appear that this move is designed to allow current backup Jesus Sucre to return to Tacoma. It remains unclear whether a deal will get done, but the release of Kratz certainly lines up with that outcome. Nevertheless, Divish notes on Twitter that his sources tell him there are no trade talks that can be characterized as being “close.”

Kratz, 35, owns a .211/.276/.400 slash over 105 Triple-A plate appearances on the season. He also briefly appeared at the major league level with Kansas City. Over parts of six seasons in the big leagues, beginning in 2010 when he was already thirty years of age, Kratz has put up a .217/.270/.400 slash with 23 home runs in 537 turns at bat.

Mariners Sign Erik Kratz To Minor League Deal

The Mariners announced that they’ve signed catcher Erik Kratz to a minor league deal. The 35-year-old Kratz, a client of Metis Sports Management, will head to Triple-A Tacoma for the time being. Earlier today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Kratz had agreed to a deal with a new team, with Seattle a likely landing spot.

A career .217/.270/.400 hitter, the 35-year-old Kratz has proven himself capable of hitting for power but at the cost of questionable batting average and OBP marks. Defensively, Kratz’s 31 percent caught-stealing rate is above average, and he’s received plus ratings in terms of pitch framing. He began the season with Royals, who ultimately opted to go with Drew Butera as their backup catcher over Kratz. Boston picked him up off waivers when he was designated for assignment by Kansas City, but they, too designated Kratz once it was determined that an injury to promising young backstop Blake Swihart was minor. FOX’s Jon Morosi noted at the time Kratz elected free agency that the Mariners were a possible landing spot.

Erik Kratz Elects Free Agency

Catcher Erik Kratz has elected free agency after being outrighted off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, reports  Brian Macpherson of the Providence Journal (on Twitter). Kratz was designated for assignment by the Red Sox late last week once Blake Swihart recovered from a minor injury.

A career .217/.270/.400 hitter, the 35-year-old Kratz has proven himself capable of hitting for power but at the cost of questionable batting average and OBP marks. Defensively, Kratz’s 31 percent caught-stealing rate is above average, and he’s received plus ratings in terms of pitch framing.

Kratz and his agents at Metis Sports Management will now have the opportunity to seek a deal with any club in need of depth and/or immediate help behind the plate. The Mariners, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter), are one team that could be a possible landing spot.

Today’s Outrights: Erik Kratz, Edgar Ibarra

Here are the latest outright assignments, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Red Sox have outrighted catcher Erik Kratz to Triple-A, according to the official transactions page.  The move concludes a busy week for Kratz, as he was claimed off waivers from the Royals last Sunday and then designated for assignment on Thursday.  Kratz has only appeared in four games this season (all with Kansas City), as he has spent time on the DL and also generally had a hard time getting into games given Salvador Perez‘s heavy workload behind the plate.
  • The Angels outrighted left-hander Edgar Ibarra off their 40-man roster, club director of communications Eric Kay tweets.  The southpaw was already pitching at Triple-A after being optioned back to Salt Lake earlier this month.  After ten minor league seasons, the 26-year-old Ibarra finally made his Major League debut, allowing a run in four relief innings for the Angels over two games.  Ibarra has posted a 4.20 ERA, 2.07 K/BB rate and 8.0 K/9 over 686 1/3 career minor league innings.

Red Sox Option Joe Kelly, Designate Erik Kratz

The Red Sox have designated catcher Erik Kratz for assignment and optioned struggling right-hander Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket, the team announced. (CSN New England’s Sean McAdam tweeted the Kratz DFA prior to the announcement.) Additionally, Dustin Pedroia has landed on the 15-day DL due to a hamstring injury. In a series of corresponding moves, Boston has recalled Jackie Bradley Jr. from Pawtucket and selected the contracts of shortstop Deven Marrero and right-hander Jonathan Aro.

The biggest item of note in this story, for Red Sox fans, will be the departure of Kelly from the rotation, at least for the time being. One of two players acquired from the Cardinals in what now looks to be a lopsided John Lackey trade (the other was Allen Craig), Kelly has made 24 starts in a Red Sox uniform, with the cumulative result being a 4.96 ERA to go along with 6.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. His 4.20 ERA in 2014 was significantly better than his 5.67 mark this season, but his FIP and xFIP marks over the two seasons are pretty similar, each pegging his true talent in the 4.10 to 4.40 range.

Kelly’s struggles this year have come largely as a result of an inability to strand hitters, but some pundits have suggested that he may simply be better off being converted to a relief pitcher in the long run. Whether that outcome proves to be the case remains to be seen, but one can imagine Kelly’s fastball (currently averaging 95.7 mph) playing up even better in the bullpen. For the time being, at least, Kelly will work in the Pawtucket rotation, tweets the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.

Kelly has already accumulated enough service time in 2015 to reach three years of Major League service and thus qualify for arbitration following the season. As such, there’s no risk of this option — even if he’s left in the minors for a significant amount of time — delaying his path to free agency. The struggles and demotion will, however, undoubtedly impact his earning potential in his first trip through the arbitration process.

As for the 35-year-old Kratz, he was claimed off waivers from the Royals on Sunday due to some concern over an injury to Blake Swihart. However, Swihart is healthy and back in the lineup, so Kratz’s time in a Boston uniform will end without so much as a single in-game appearance over the few days that he was on the roster. A career .217/.270/.400 hitter, Kratz has proven himself capable of hitting for power but at the cost of questionable batting average and OBP marks. Defensively, Kratz’s 31 percent caught-stealing rate is above average, and he’s received plus ratings in terms of pitch framing.

Red Sox Claim Erik Kratz Off Waivers

12:56pm: The Red Sox announced that they have claimed Kratz off waivers.  Kratz will provide the team with depth now that Blake Swihart is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left foot.

12:28pm: Erik Kratz has been claimed off waivers by an unknown team, MLBTR has learned.  The catcher was designated for assignment by the Royals on June 11th.

The claiming team is currently unknown, but the Mets and Red Sox both saw catchers leave the game with injury yesterday.  The Mets, however, already have depth behind the plate in Kevin Plawecki and Anthony Recker, so the Red Sox might be the more probable destination.

Most of Kratz’s career has been spent with the Phillies, but he’s also had brief stints in Toronto and Kansas City. All told, Kratz has shown nice power but low batting average and on-base capabilities, as evidenced by a .217/.270/.400 batting line. He’s also a skilled pitch-framer, however, and he’s thrown out 32 percent of attempted base-stealers in his big league career.

Kratz was scheduled to return from the 15-day disabled list earlier this month but was designated for assignment before he could be called back into action for KC.  Kratz would have served as Salvador Perez‘s backup in Kansas City had he stayed on board, but that job has gone to Drew Butera instead.

Royals Designate Erik Kratz For Assignment

The Royals announced today that they have reinstated catcher Erik Kratz from the 15-day disabled list and designated him for assignment (Twitter link). The decision means that Drew Butera will be Kansas City’s backup to Salvador Perez going forward.

The 34-year-old Kratz had previously served as Perez’s backup, although he scarcely saw action due to the excellent young backstop’s exceptionally high workload behind he dish. Kratz picked up just five plate appearances in four games with the Royals this year and has been on the disabled list since early May with inflammation in his left foot.

Most of Kratz’s career has been spent with the Phillies, but he’s also had brief stints in Toronto and Kansas City. All told, Kratz has shown nice power but low batting average and on-base capabilities, as evidenced by a .217/.270/.400 batting line. He’s also a skilled pitch-framer, however, and he’s thrown out 32 percent of attempted base-stealers in his big league career.

Butera, 31, is considered by many to be an excellent defender in his own right, however, which is largely why he has amassed 771 big league plate appearances despite being one of the least productive hitters in the game. The longtime Twin is a career .182/.236/.265 hitter in parts of six seasons with the Twins, Dodgers, Angels and now Royals. Kansas City acquired Butera from the Angels on May 7 in exchange for infielder Ryan Jackson.

AL Notes: Royals, Holland, Harrison, Urshela

While much of the focus around the game remains on the ongoing draft, let’s take a peek in at the latest from the American League:

  • The Royals will soon have to make a call between catchers Drew Butera and Erik Kratz, Jeffrey Flanagan writes for Neither of the reserve backstops can be optioned, and Kratz is nearing the end of a rehab assignment. “If I were to handicap both of them, I would say Butera is the better defensive player and Kratz is the better offensive player,” said skipper Ned Yost, who explained that he had yet to speak with GM Dayton Moore about the decision.
  • The Rangers rotation has held together well enough, and has received a nice boost from Chi Chi Gonzalez, but nevertheless remains an area to watch as the team continues to play solid baseball. Texas may well look to add in the rotation, particularly since the club now seems unlikely to welcome back lefty Derek Holland until right around the trade deadline. Holland has not progressed as well as hoped from his sub-scapular strain, GM Jon Daniels told reporters including Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). It now looks like he’ll be out until at least late July or even into August, per Daniels.
  • In more positive news, fellow Rangers southpaw Matt Harrison has managed to return to the hill and is throwing in the low-90s, as Kevin Sherrington writes for the Dallas Morning News. The results haven’t been there for Harrison in his work thus far at Triple-A — he’s allowed eight earned in ten innings — but that is secondary to his overall health at this point given the serious back issues he has dealt with. Harrison still has work to do, clearly, but he could bolster the Texas rotation by early July. He’s owed $13MM annually this year and the next two, while the team holds a $13.25MM option ($2MM buyout) for 2018.
  • As expected, the Indians have officially called up third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a 23-year-old who’ll see his first big league action. Urshela, who entered the year as the system’s 11th-best prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, has slashed .275/.301/.475 in his 83 Triple-A plate appearances this year. He’s said to be more advanced defensively than at the plate, but has significant raw power and solid contact ability (though he does not take many free passes).

Royals Acquire Hendriks, Kratz For Valencia

6:10pm: The Blue Jays announced that they have acquired Danny Valencia from the Royals in exchange for Hendriks and Kratz.  Valencia, 29, posted a .282/.328/.382 slash line in 119 plate appearances for KC this season.  The veteran split 117 games between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk in 2013.  In 170 plate appearances last year for the O’s, he had a .304/.330/.553 slash line to go with eight homers.  The 29-year-old has seen scattered MLB action since a mediocre stint as the Twins’ everyday third bagger in 2011. 

5:51pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports confirms that Kratz is headed to Kansas City (Twitter link).

5:46pm: The Royals and Blue Jays have agreed to a trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Right-hander Liam Hendriks is heading to Kansas City in the deal, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that catcher Erik Kratz is expected to be joining the Royals as well.

The 25-year-old Hendriks was once considered one of the Top 10 prospects in the Twins organization, but he made his rounds on waivers over the past season after failing to translate his excellent Triple-A numbers to the Major Leagues. Hendriks allowed nine runs in 13 1/3 innings for the Jays this season and has a 6.06 ERA in 169 1/3 innings throughout his big league career. The Aussie right-hander has a strong 3.23 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 362 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level. Baseball America tweets that he was impressive at the Triple-A All Star Game this season — a team that he was named to after posting a brilliant 2.33 ERA in 18 minor league appearances this year.

Kratz, who turned 34 last month, is expected to help the Royals at the big league level. The former Phillies backstop has seen limited time with the Blue Jays in 2014, slashing .198/.226/.346 with three homers. Low batting averages and plus pop have been the story of Kratz’s big league career, as he’s hit just .216 with a .271 OBP in 501 plate appearances but boasts a solid .181 isolated power mark (slugging minus batting average). Kratz is a career .268/.342/.474 hitter in 1618 Triple-A plate appearances. He has consistently rated as a strong pitch-framer and pitch-blocker, and he’s gunned down 32 percent of attempted base stealers in his big league career.