The Phillies announced Thursday that they’ve invited three catchers to spring training as non-roster invitees: Aramis Garcia, Cody Roberts and Jack Conley. Conley was already in the system as a 2018 draftee, and Roberts was plucked from the Orioles in the minor league phase of this year’s Rule 5 draft. Garcia, however, was a free agent, meaning he’s inked a minor league deal with Philadelphia.
Garcia, 30, is the only member of this catching trio with big league experience. He’s appeared in parts of four MLB seasons between the Giants, Reds and A’s, batting a combined .216/.253/.332 in 320 trips to the plate. He spent the entire 2022 season with Cincinnati, logging most of his action in the Majors as the Reds dealt with injuries to Tyler Stephenson and cycled through a carousel of options behind the dish. Garcia has a solid 28% caught-stealing rate in his limited MLB action, and he’s turned in above-average framing grades as well, per FanGraphs.
In all likelihood, Garcia will be ticketed for Triple-A with the Phils, who have J.T. Realmuto entrenched as the starter behind the dish. Backup Garrett Stubbs, meanwhile, turned in an excellent .264/.350/.462 slash as Realmuto’s primary backup, placing him among the most productive backup catchers in the sport.
The Phillies have a well-regarded third option on the 40-man roster in young Rafael Marchan, but they traded Donny Sands to the Tigers in the swap that brought Gregory Soto to Philadelphia, thinning out their catching depth in the process. Garcia will join John Hicks as a non-roster invitee with big league experience, but it’d likely require an injury or two for either to force his way into the mix for an Opening Day roster spot.