Prior to today’s game against the Reds, the Diamondbacks placed catcher Gabriel Moreno on the 10-day injured list due to left shoulder inflammation. Catcher Jose Herrera was called up from Triple-A in the corresponding move.
Carson Kelly will be Arizona’s starting catcher while Moreno is sidelined, though Kelly had taken an increasingly large share of the playing time over the last several weeks due to Moreno’s lingering shoulder issue. “It’s something we’ve been trying to manage for some time,” manager Torey Lovullo told MLB.com and other media, and the club ultimately decided that an IL stint was necessary to allow Moreno time to rest up.
In his first full season in the majors and in his first season altogether with the D’Backs, Moreno has hit .270/.316/.360 with three homers over 244 plate appearances, translating to an 82 wRC+. It hasn’t been in the instant impact the D’Backs were hoping to get from the former top prospect, though it is safe to guess that this nagging shoulder problem has had some impact on Moreno’s hitting. While his bat and pitch-framing are still a work in progress, Moreno has already established himself as one of the game’s best throwing arms. Moreno has nabbed 11 of 18 runners trying to steal, for the highest caught-stealing percentage (61%) of any backstop in the league.
Due to a fractured forearm in Spring Training, Kelly has been limited t0 20 games and 63 PA, and he has hit only .183/.206/.250. Beyond Herrera, Ali Sanchez and Juan Centeno are the only other catchers in the Diamondbacks’ system with any MLB experience, so if Moreno is projected to be out for anything beyond the minimum 10 days, catching might emerge as a need for the D’Backs heading into the trade deadline.
Arizona probably wouldn’t pursue anything more than another depth catcher if Moreno will eventually be back, yet it creates another target for a D’Backs team that is already known to be looking for both starting and relief pitching. GM Mike Hazen has said his front office will “be aggressive” in looking for upgrades, and the D’Backs are in need of a spark in general after a miserable July. Arizona has lost 12 of its last 16 games, including today’s 7-3 loss to Cincinnati.