The Orioles have added to their catching depth with a pair of waiver claims from the Reds, acquiring backstops Aramis Garcia and Mark Kolozsvary. To create roster space, Baltimore has designated right-handers Louis Head and Beau Sulser for assignment.
Both Sulser and Head were themselves acquired via the waiver wire in 2022, with the former obtained from the Pirates in May and the latter from Miami in July. Neither saw much action in an Orioles uniform, with Sulser pitching 12 2/3 MLB innings for the O’s and Head only five frames. Those 12 2/3 innings for Sulser marked his Major League debut, as he pitched in four games with Pittsburgh before moving onto six more appearances with Baltimore.
The younger brother of former Orioles hurler Cole Sulser, Beau worked his way up to the big leagues after being a 10-round pick for the Pirates in the 2017 draft. Though the Pirates gave the righty a long look at a starter at Triple-A in 2021, Sulser has pitched only as a reliever in his brief MLB career. Sulser has a 4.12 ERA over 373 1/3 career innings in the minors, with an improved strikeout rate in 2022 as he made the move back to mostly relief pitching.
Head made his Major League debut in 2021, posting a 2.31 ERA over 35 innings out of the Rays’ bullpen. Seemingly the latest product of Tampa Bay’s nonstop pitching pipeline, Head spent an unusual amount of time moving up and down that pipeline, as the Rays sent the right-hander up and down from Triple-A on 12 different occasions. Acquired by the Marlins in an offseason trade, Head struggled to a 7.23 ERA over his 23 2/3 innings with Florida’s other team, though he seemed to right the ship with an 1.80 ERA in his brief time with the O’s.
The additions of Garcia and Kolozsvary give the Orioles six catchers on their 40-man roster — an unusually high number even for a team that didn’t have a surefire starter in Adley Rutschman. However, Robinson Chirinos is a free agent and Cam Gallagher is a non-tender candidate, so bringing more backstops into the fold gives the O’s some flexibility in deciding who will ultimately work as Rutschman’s backup in 2023. (Anthony Bemboom is the other catcher on the 40-man.)
A second-round pick for the Giants in the 2014 draft, Garcia spent much of his career in San Francisco’s organization before being claimed by the Rangers in November 2020. That move sparked a whirlwind of movement for the catcher, as the Oriole are now Garcia’s fifth different team within the last 23 months. Garcia has seen MLB action in four of the last five seasons, totaling 320 plate appearances over 116 games with the Giants (2018-19), Athletics (2021) and Reds (2022).
Other than an .800 OPS in his first 65 PA with San Francisco, Garcia hasn’t shown much at the bat, hitting .216/.253/.332 for his career against big league pitching. Injuries have played a significant role in Garcia’s career, as he missed all of 2020 recovering from hip surgery, and a finger sprain sent him to Cincinnati’s 60-day injured list last season. Garcia is projected to earn $800K in his first offseason for arbitration eligibility, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Orioles non-tendered him prior to the deadline, depending on the team’s other plans for its catchers or its 40-man roster space.
Kolozsvary was a seventh-round pick for the Reds in 2017, and today’s waiver claim marks the first organization change of his pro career. After hitting .215/.326/.343 in an even 1100 PA in the minors, Kolozsvary topped off his Reds tenure by making his Major League debut in 2022, appearing in 10 games.