Like every other team in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians employ numerous players throughout their organization, from the big-league club in Cleveland to their rookie league team in Arizona and beyond. And like every other Major League franchise, the Indians add and subtract from this player pool on a regular basis. This irregular series will serve to post notice when a former Indians player has done something noteworthy with a quick look back at the player’s time in Cleveland.
Player: C George Kottaras
Current Team: Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays)
Year(s) in Indians Organization: Signed with the Indians on March 31, 2014; appeared in 10 games with the Indians this season before being claimed via waivers by the Cardinals on July 11
Why He Still Isn’t in Cleveland: Kottaras hit well in limited action (27 plate appearances) for the Tribe this season, slashing .286/.385/.714 with 3 home runs and 4 runs batted in. But the Tribe didn’t have much use for a backup catcher, considering that Yan Gomes has emerged as arguably one of the best (if not the best) catcher in the American League, especially with as well as he’s been hitting recently.
Besides, Kottaras had benefited from fluky numbers (such as a high BABIP), and considering he’s a .216/.326/.414 hitter over his career, regression seemed likely at one point or another. Besides, the aforementioned small sample size could have blown what Kottaras did way out of proportion.
After the Indians acquired outfielder Chris Dickerson from the Pirates on July 7, the Indians designated Kottaras for assignment. Needing a new backup catcher, Cleveland promoted minor leaguer Roberto Perez, who has shown flashes of being a solid major leaguer at times this season.
Eventually, the Indians put him on waivers, and the Cardinals — desperately seeking a catcher after an injury to Yadier Molina — quickly claimed the 31-year old Kottaras on July 11. (Kottaras isn’t the only Canadian a Cleveland team has apparently gotten rid of in the past few weeks, and yes — I’m referring to my beloved Andrew Wiggins.)
What He Did: Kottaras never really got much of a chance in St. Louis, and only collected 6 plate appearances for the Cardinals, over which he hit .200/.333/.200.
After the team signed A.J. Pierzynski, Kottaras was released on July 29.
However, Kottaras wasn’t on the market for too long, and the Blue Jays — who are seemingly involved in every minor transaction that’s ever occurred in baseball — signed him in an effort to replenish their minor league catching depth. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, Kottaras will report to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
What Does the Future Hold: Toronto is one of the most active teams in baseball when it comes to player movement. Subsequently, if Kottaras impresses at Buffalo, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos will surely find space for him on the active roster.
Kottaras has excellent career minor league numbers and has proven to be a reliable backup catcher in the major leagues, so there’s certainly a place in the majors for him, whether it’s in Toronto or a different city. He probably won’t be a starter, but any team acquiring Kottaras knows exactly what they’re getting.
I’d be surprised if he signs a major league contract, but something similar to what the Indians gave him before this season (a minor league deal with a clear opportunity to a major league roster spot) seems to be the most likely option for Kottaras when he signs his next contract.
However, he’s still just 31, and if he doesn’t make it to Toronto (though I think he will), Kottaras is still young enough that he should get plenty of chances around baseball before his career is over.
Notice a player you remember being in the Indians organization? We’re ever-vigilant, but sometimes we miss guys, too! Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know which former Indians farmhand or player is making noise elsewhere.