The Tigers have signed right-hander Carlos Sanabria and catcher Chris Rabago to minor league deals, The Detroit Free Press’ Evan Petzold reports. Presumably, both players will be invited to the Tigers’ big league Spring Training camp whenever the lockout ends and camp opens for Major League players.
Sanabria pitched in the Royals’ farm system in 2021, after spending his first seven pro seasons in the Astros organization. It’s fair to speculate that Tigers manager A.J. Hinch had a hand in recruiting Sanabria to Detroit, as Hinch was undoubtedly familiar with the righty when Hinch was managing the Astros from 2015-19. Sanabria didn’t make his big league debut until Hinch had left Houston, however, as Sanabria’s MLB resume consists of two games and two innings with the Astros in 2020.
Still only 25 years old, Sanabria has a 3.82 ERA and 23% strikeout rate over 412 1/3 career innings in the minor leagues, working only as a reliever over the last four seasons. Much of Sanabria’s success has come at the lower levels, as he has a 5.27 ERA at Triple-A, albeit over just 27 1/3 innings of work. A greater concern may be a lack of control that has more or less been an issue for Sanabria over his career, and has particularly manifested itself over the last few years; Sanabria has a 14.75% walk rate over 113 1/3 combined innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Rabago was a 13th-round pick for the Rockies in the 2014 draft, and he has played almost all of his career in Colorado’s farm system apart from a seven-game stint with the Yankees’ Double-A squad in 2018. Rabago has hit .248/.327/.348 over 1727 plate appearances in the minors, including a very similar .240/.325/.346 slash in 235 PA at the Triple-A level.
Rabago will provide the Tigers with further depth at a catching position that is headlined by new arrival Tucker Barnhart. The versatile Eric Haase is the primary backup on the big league roster and can also be used in the outfield, while Dustin Garneau is at Triple-A providing more experience. Jake Rogers will miss a good chunk of the 2022 season recovering from a Tommy John surgery from last September.