The Tigers announced Monday that catcher Eric Haase, whom they designated for assignment over the weekend, has been claimed off waivers by the Guardians. Cleveland designated fellow catcher Zack Collins for assignment in a corresponding move.
Haase, 30, goes from his hometown team back to the team that originally drafted him and gave him his Major League debut back in 2018. Cleveland selected Haase in the seventh round of the 2011 draft but traded him to Detroit for cash in Jan. 2020. He appeared in just seven games during the shortened 2020 season but broke out in 2021 and has seen semi-regular playing time over the past three seasons.
In 2021-22, Haase turned in a .242/.295/.451 batting line, swatting 36 home runs, 29 doubles and a pair of triples in 732 plate appearances. That offense clocked in about six percent better than league average, by measure of wRC+, and Haase showed some defensive versatility along the way. In addition to his work behind the plate, the Tigers frequently used him in left field (in addition to a pair of one-off appearances in right field and at first base).
The 2023 season has been a rough one for Haase, however. In 286 trips to the plate, he’s slashing .201/.246/.284. Haase has seen his ground-ball rate increase, while his exit velocity and hard-hit rate have both trended in the wrong direction. He’s also popping the ball up to the infield at a career-high rate.
Guardians catchers rank dead-last in offense this season, batting a combined .184/.258/.312. Even a small step toward Haase’s 2021-22 production would clear that remarkably low bar. For now, Haase will split time behind the plate with top prospect Bo Naylor. If he shows well down the stretch, Haase can be retained for another three years via arbitration, so there’s potential for him to stick around for awhile in his original organization. He’s out of minor league options, however, meaning he can’t be sent down without first clearing waivers.
Collins, 28, was the No. 10 overall draft pick by the White Sox out of Miami back in 2016 but has yet to establish himself at the MLB level. He’s spent parts of five seasons in the Majors and tallied 465 plate appearances during that time. His .188/.300/.329 slash is illustrative of his struggles to make contact, though. Collins has a huge 13.1% walk rate in his career, but he’s also fanned in 33.5% of his plate appearances. He’s a .252/.371/.468 hitter in 1040 Triple-A plate appearances.
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, the only action the Guardians can take with Collins is to attempt to pass him through outright waivers or release him. He’ll be placed on either outright waivers or release waivers within the next few days.