The Twins and free-agent catcher Tony Wolters are in agreement on a minor league contract, tweets Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Wolters, a client of the VC Sports Group, will presumably receive an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
Wolters, 30, was the Rockies’ primary catcher for several years, logging 320 games behind the dish in Colorado from 2017-20 and appearing in 77% of the team’s games between the 2019 season and shortened 2020 campaign. The former third-round pick was long touted for his plus defense, which helped him to offset a lack of offensive prowess. Wolters hit .259/.327/.395 as a rookie in 2016 (although that was just a 77 wRC+ after accounting for Coors Field), but he’s mustered only a .229/.320/.295 output in 1036 plate appearances since that time.
Wolters has spent the past two seasons with the Cubs and Dodgers, respectively, but only appeared in 14 games with the Cubs in ’21 and two games with the Dodgers in ’22. He posted decent Triple-A numbers between the two teams in 2021 (.240/.348/.385 in 260 plate appearances) but limped to a .230/.321/.284 line in 234 trips to the plate with the Dodgers’ top minor league affiliate in 2022.
As noted, however, Wolters has long been a glove-first option behind the plate. He’s thrown out 31% of runners who’ve attempted to steal against him in his career, comfortably better than the league average, has plus framing marks on the whole, and has amassed 24 Defensive Runs Saved in 2827 innings behind the plate.
The Twins signed Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $30MM contract earlier in the offseason, and he’s expected to split time with incumbent Ryan Jeffers behind the dish, comprising Minnesota’s top catching tandem. However, the Twins are thin on catching depth in the upper minors, so Wolters will provide some defensive-minded insurance in the event of an injury at the MLB level.