The Royals found their 2013 backup catcher by claiming George Kottaras off of waivers this afternoon. Kottaras designated for assignment by the Oakland A's after he became expendable when they acquired John Jaso in a trade last week. Before the acquisition of Jaso, Kottaras appeared to be in line for a part time job splitting time with Derek Norris. Now Kottaras will be the primary back up for Salvador Perez in Kansas City. Kottaras avoided arbitration with the A's earlier in the winter and will be earning $1 million dollars this season.
The only way Kottaras will see regular playing time with the Royals would be due to an injury from Perez, so clearly Royals fans will prefer to not see too much from Kottaras this season. He does, however, represent a big upgrade in the back up backstop role over Brett Hayes. While Kottaras is not known as a great defender behind the plate, he can hold is own and has been a solid catcher for the Red Sox, Brewers, A's over the last few years.
At the plate Kottaras is a three true outcome hitter. Last season with the Brewers and A's he hit only .211, but got on base 35% of the time thanks to a walk percentage just over 17%. He also struck out 48 times in his 171 at bats, so he is suspect to the strike out. Kottaras has more power than most back-up catchers cranking nine homers last season.
It is a low risk pick up by the Royals that certainly helps the major league roster. Kottaras could be one of the better back-up catchers in baseball this year, and will surely handle his role behind Sal Perez well.