The SF Giants signed free-agent catcher Curt Casali to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
While the SF Giants seemed to solidify the backup catcher spot earlier this offseason when they re-signed Chadwick Tromp to a big-league deal, it appears the front-office had different plans. On Monday, the team announced that they signed free-agent catcher Curt Casali to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. To make space for Casali on the 40-man roster, the Giants sold the contractual rights of Andrew Suarez to the LG Twins in Korea. A move that had been expected for some time.
Casali is a seven-year veteran that has split his career between the Tampa Bay Rays and Reds. In 167 games over the past three seasons, Casali hit .260/.345/.440 with 18 home runs in 485 plate appearances. In 2020, the right-handed hitter blasted six home runs in less than 100 plate appearances across 31 games, splitting time behind the plate with Tucker Barnhart in Cincinnati.
While Tromp and Casali will hypothetically compete for the backup catcher job behind Buster Posey, Tromp could be retained if he is optioned to Triple-A since he has minor-league options remaining. Casali, on the other hand, would have to be exposed to waivers. Of course, with top prospect Joey Bart slotted for everyday playing time at Triple-A, it would seem to be a waste of Tromp’s talents for him to be a minor-league backup.
However, the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic adds a caveat to the catching situation. Last season, teams were mandated to have a catcher on their taxi squad, traveling with the team while not on the roster at all times. It seems likely that a similar rule could be in place this year.
With the Giants hoping to get Bart consistent playing time at Triple-A, it would make sense for Tromp to travel with the team on the taxi squad. Plus, with three legitimate catching options ahead of Bart, the front office will be under less pressure to promote Bart before they believe he’s ready if Posey has to miss time or struggles.
Casali’s offensive profile fits the tendencies of the current Giants front-office. He has consistently walked at a strong clip, especially over the past couple of seasons, while generating above-average power for a backup catcher. Statcast was skeptical of his power surge’s sustainability in 2020, estimating a .352 slugging percentage instead of the .500 he posted. However, he has consistently outperformed his expected results. Defensively, Casali ranked in the 78th percentile in Statcast’s framing metrics and has thrown out opposing baserunners at a league-average clip.
The SF Giants continued filling out their big-league roster at the margins on Monday, signing catcher Curt Casali to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. After serving as the backup catcher with the Cincinnati Reds from 2018-20, he should be Buster Posey’s primary backup next season.