The Padres have selected outfielder Luis Liberato onto the MLB roster. Catcher Cam Gallagher was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot, while Austin Nola is headed to the paternity list in an active roster move.
Liberato, 26, is headed to the big leagues for the first time. A native of the Dominican Republic, he joined pro ball back in 2012 on a deal with the Mariners. Liberato spent eight years in the Seattle system, playing his way as high as Triple-A but never reaching the big leagues. He reached minor league free agency at the end of last season and changed organizations for the first time, joining San Diego on a non-roster pact.
The Friars assigned Liberato to Triple-A El Paso, and he’s impressed during his first year in the system. The left-handed hitter owns a .261/.354/.541 line with 20 home runs across 390 trips to the plate. He’s struck out at a slightly above-average 25.4% clip, but he’s compensated by walking in 12.3% of his trips and collecting 50 extra-base hits.
Liberato has played a fair bit of center field in El Paso, so he’ll add some depth at all three outfield positions for manager Bob Melvin. The Friars haven’t gotten much this season out of Trent Grisham or José Azocar in center field, perhaps giving Liberato an opportunity to pick up some starts there down the stretch.
Gallagher just joined the organization five weeks ago. San Diego acquired the backstop from the Royals for outfielder Brent Rooker in the final trade announced at the August 2 deadline. The 29-year-old never appeared in an MLB game as a Padre, as he’s spent his entire tenure in El Paso. Gallagher stumbled to a .255/.317/.382 line over 16 games with the Chihuahuas. With Nola, Luis Campusano, Jorge Alfaro and Brett Sullivan already on the 40-man roster, the Friars have elected to move on from Gallagher rather quickly.
A right-handed hitter, Gallagher has spent the majority of his career backing up Salvador Pérez in Kansas City. He’s reached the majors in each of the last six years but never played in more than 48 games in any individual season. Gallagher is a career .240/.302/.355 hitter in 469 plate appearances, and he’s a .269/.330/.378 batter through parts of four Triple-A campaigns.
San Diego will have to place Gallagher on outright or release waivers in the next few days. Given the general demand for experienced catching, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him latch on elsewhere. This is his final minor league option year, meaning a claiming team could stash Gallagher in the minors for the rest of the season but would need to carry him on the Opening Day roster or designate him for assignment next year.