The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have claimed catcher George Kottaras from the Cleveland Indians. The Indians DFA’d Kottaras earlier in the week. For the Cardinals, the move was motivated by the loss of Yadier Molina for the next 8-12 weeks and is a low risk move for the Cardinals.
Kottaras, 31, was my first thought if we were going to go outside the organization for a catcher. While he may not hit for average (a career .216 hitter) he does possess solid power (projecting to 23 home runs over 600 plate appearances). So far this season in the majors, he hit .286 with 3 home runs over 10 games for Cleveland. He is signed to a one year deal worth a little more than $1 million, so it represents little investment and cost for the team to give him a look.
The big question will be how they make room for him on the 40 man roster. The team moved Jaime Garcia to the 60 day DL this afternoon to make room for Joe Kelly on the 40 man roster (Tyler Lyons was optioned to Memphis to make room for Kelly on the 25 man roster). But the Cardinals currently have a full 40 man roster. There are three options for them going forward to make room.
The most obvious would be to move Molina to the 60 day DL since he is expected to miss at least 60 days following today’s surgery. The other option would be to move Keith Butler to the 60 day DL, but that would be a major league disabled list. That means the Cardinals would have to pay Butler a Major League salary and he would accrue service time. Or they could outright someone off the 40 man roster.
Edit: The Cardinals outrighted OF Mike O’Neill off the 40 man roster to make room for Kottaras. After a stellar 2013 campaign where he hit .314/.424/.369 in 130 games between Springfield and Memphis, he was sent to Double-A to start the season because of the excess of outfield depth the organization has. He has struggled this season, hitting .263/.345/.352 over 74 games.