The Cardinals have agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Oscar Hernandez, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The former D-backs and Red Sox backstop will head to Major League camp on a non-roster invite.
Hernandez, 26, was the top pick in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, when the D-backs selected him out of the Rays organization. Touted for his defensive skills behind the dish, Hernandez looked decidedly overmatched in two seasons with Arizona, hitting a combined .167/.239/.262 in a tiny sample of 47 plate appearances. He hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2016, although he was on the Red Sox’ Major League roster briefly this past season. However, Hernandez was called up as a depth option and designated for assignment without ever appearing in a game for Boston.
In parts of 10 minor league seasons, Hernandez is a .246/.323/.417 hitter — although he’s managed just a .210/.276/.336 output at the Triple-A level. He’s thrown out 42 percent of runners who attempt to steal against him in the minors, though (plus one of two in the Majors), and he routinely draws strong framing marks in the minors.
Matt Wieters was the primary backup to ironman Yadier Molina in 2019 but is currently a free agent. Well-regarded prospect Andrew Knizner is the only other catcher on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, so Hernandez will add a glove-first depth option.