The San Francisco Giants officially ended the Erik Kratz era on Thursday when the veteran catcher was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The San Francisco Giants designated veteran catcher Erik Kratz for assignment earlier this week.
On Thursday, he officially found a new home.
The Giants traded marginal middle infield prospect C.J. Hinojosa to acquire Kratz from the Milwaukee Brewers back in March. Kratz was acquired to provide insurance for Buster Posey and Stephen Vogt, who both were working back from offseason injuries. Vogt has now solidified his spot on the big league roster and Posey is set to be activated tomorrow.
The 38-year-old veteran backstop has had a classic backup catcher’s career. While he didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 30, he has played parts of every big league season since. His stellar defense has long been heralded, but his bat has prevented him from getting extended playing time.
A career .208/.256/.360 batting line leaves a lot to be desired, but that would have been a marked improvement over his production for the Giants. In 36 plate appearances, Kratz struggled to .125/.222/.281 line. Had he put up closer to his career numbers, Kratz may have had a shot to beat out Vogt for the backup catcher spot, but the Giants have not exhibited much patience with fringe players this season.
It’s always tough to stomach giving up a prospect for a player who never contributes and turns into sunk value.
The specific details of the deal are not known. However, there is a reason to believe the Giants should get at least a lottery ticket back.
The Giants have plenty of money, but they wouldn’t cover all of his remaining salary for nothing.
The Rays have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. The Giants are not going to get anyone close to their system’s top 30, or probably even 50 prospects. However, the Giants system is light years behind Tampa’s.
It’s reasonable to think that the Giants might be able to get back a low-level minor leaguer with an interesting tool or two.
Erik Kratz will give the Rays an above-average defensive backstop and over a larger sample size, his hitting production should return to normal. The Giants hope to hit on a lottery ticket.
Every once in a while, one of these under-the-radar trades pays off in a big way. Maybe this is the one.