The Orioles announced that they have claimed catcher Cam Gallagher off waivers from the Padres and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. He was designated for assignment by the Friars on Friday. Right-handed pitcher Rico Garcia was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
Gallagher, 29, was drafted by the Royals and spent most of his career backing up Salvador Perez. On deadline day this year, he was sent to the Padres for Brent Rooker but the Friars kept him in the minors until designating him for assignment. He has a career batting line of .240/.302/.355 in 171 career games, all with KC.
Defensively, he’s racked up 12 Defensive Runs Saved in that time, a fairly strong mark for what is barely over a full season of work. For context, only three MLB catchers have more than 12 DRS so far this season. His 171-game career has also resulted in a 10.2 FRM, which is the framing metric at FanGraphs. Jose Trevino is the only catcher who has posted an FRM higher than that this season.
Due to his backup role, Gallagher has never played more than 48 games in a season, so it’s hard to say whether or not he could sustain those solid defensive numbers over a lengthier stretch. He may not have to though, as the O’s are likely considering him for a backup role behind rookie catcher Adley Rutschman. It was recently reported that the O’s are looking to add a backup catcher this offseason, which makes sense as Robinson Chirinos is a free agent this winter. It’s possible that this claim gives them a chance to cross that off their to-do list early, or at least provide them with a backup plan in the event they don’t find an offseason move to their liking.
Garcia, 28, was signed by Baltimore to a minor league deal in the offseason and has logged just eight innings in the majors this year but has solid numbers in the minors. Through 41 frames on the farm the season, he has a 1.76 ERA with a 32.3% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate. He will still have one more option after this year and still has less than one year of MLB service time. If any team feels he can sustain those strong results from this season, they could put in a claim and retain his services at little cost.