The Indians have signed veteran catcher Rene Rivera to a minor league contract and assigned him to their alternate training site, per a club announcement. He’s represented by MDR Sports Management.
Rivera, 37, has spent the past two seasons with the Mets organization — a return to the organization with which he has spent the most time in the Major Leagues. He tallied just four plate appearances last summer and only 20 the previous year, however. He hasn’t reached 100 plate appearances in the big leagues since the 2017 season, which he split between the Mets and the Cubs.
Rivera doesn’t hit much and never really has. He’s the consummate glove-first, grizzled veteran backstop who draws praise for framing, throwing, calling a sound game and offering plenty of veteran insight to young pitchers and catchers alike. He’s a career .221/.272/.353 hitter in 1551 plate appearances at the MLB level.
Cleveland has Roberto Perez and Austin Hedges currently atop its depth chart for catchers, while fellow veteran Ryan Lavarnway is at the team’s alternate site as well. Perez is out to a fast start this season, while Hedges is 1-for-8 with a solo homer (and just 2-for-20 dating back to last season’s acquisition). Of course, Hedges himself is a defense-first catcher with enough power to occasionally run into a big fly, so the lack of offense in that tiny sample isn’t a huge shock. Hedges, however, is regarded as one of the best, if not the best defensive catcher in baseball, so he’s unlikely to be displaced by Rivera anytime soon (barring injury).