10:34pm: The Rockies will also select Butera, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets.
7:55pm: The Rockies are planning to select the contract of catcher Elias Diaz and carry him on their Opening Day roster, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Manager Bud Black has since confirmed as much, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding tweets. It’s possible still that the Rox will select Drew Butera as well and carry three backstops to begin the season, though it sounds like no final decision has been made on that front just yet.
Diaz, 29, was a rather well-regarded catching prospect when rising through the Pirates’ system and has had some success in Pittsburgh, most notably in 2018 when he appeared to break out with a .286/.339/.452 slash and 10 homers in 277 plate appearances. That set the stage for a more prominent role in 2019, but Diaz was unable to capitalize on his increased playing time. In 332 plate appearances, he mustered only a .241/.296/.307 line.
Problems at the plate weren’t the only issue for Diaz, however, as he also struggled defensively. While his career 28 percent caught-stealing rate is solid, Diaz ranked as baseball’s second-worst pitch framer last year, per Statcast. FanGraphs agreed with those framing woes, and in all he checked in at a staggering -21 Defensive Runs Saved in just 706 innings.
Diaz had never struggled to such extremes on either side of the ball and actually graded out only slightly below average with the glove in that strong 2018 showing. It’s worth noting that he missed all of Spring Training and the first month of last year’s regular season due to a bacterial infection in his stomach, which surely didn’t do him any favors when he returned in late April.
Whether Diaz was actually ready to return when he did, the results spoke for themselves, however. They also convinced the Bucs to non-tender him rather than pay a projected $1.4MM salary in arbitration (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). He’ll now have a chance to prove that last year’s showing was an aberration and that he’s far better than was on display in his illness-shortened 2019 campaign. He’ll likely begin as a backup to Wolters, but given Wolters’ dismal offensive track record, it’s possible that Diaz could play his way into a bigger role.