Detroit Tigers sign catcher Andrew Knapp to minor-league deal with spring training invite

The Detroit Tigers continue to stockpile catchers.

Since the offseason began, the Tigers have acquired four catchers: Michael Papierski (off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds), Julio E. Rodriguez (minor-league contract), Mario Feliciano (off waivers from Milwaukee Brewers) and, most recently, Andrew Knapp (minor-league contract).

Knapp, who signed with the Tigers before Christmas, received an invitation to MLB spring training, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. He has played 325 MLB games over parts of six seasons.

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Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp (15) tags out Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) to end the first inning at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Friday, March 16, 2018.

Of the four new catchers, Feliciano is the only member of the 40-man roster alongside fellow catchers Eric Haase and Jake Rogers. Papierski, Rodriguez and Knapp are currently listed on the Triple-A Toledo roster.

Knapp, a 31-year-old switch-hitter, has hit .209 with 13 home runs, 103 walks (11.8% walk rate) and 274 strikeouts (31.4% strikeout rate) throughout his MLB career. His experience and walk rate made him attractive to the Tigers.

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The Philadelphia Phillies selected Knapp with the No. 53 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

He played for the Phillies in the big leagues from 2017-21 before becoming a minor-league free agent in November 2021. He bounced around between the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants throughout the 2022 season.

Scott Harris, the Tigers’ president of baseball operations, served as the Giants’ general manager last July when Knapp signed a minor-league deal with San Francisco, where he reunited with his former manager Gabe Kapler.

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Knapp hit .128 with five walks and 12 strikeouts in 16 games last season for the Pirates, Mariners and Giants. He added a .245 batting average, 12 homers, 17 walks and 57 strikeouts in 56 games at the Triple-A level for the Giants and Mariners.

In 2020, Knapp experienced the best season of his MLB career as JT Realmuto’s backup. He played just 33 games for the Phillies (because of the COVID-19-shortened schedule) but hit .278 with 15 walks and 19 strikeouts, along with showing an improvement on defense.

For the Tigers, Haase is guaranteed to earn a spot on the 2023 Opening Day roster. Rogers has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and will compete for the backup job. He hasn’t played in MLB since 2021 and could need a stint in Triple-A Toledo before returning.

A new home in AL Central

Former Tigers utility player Willi Castro, non-tendered in November, signed a minor-league contract with the Minnesota Twins on Dec. 23 and has been assigned to Triple-A St. Paul.

Castro, 25, hit .245 with 24 home runs, 51 walks (4.7% walk rate) and 263 strikeouts (24.1% strikeout rate) across 303 games for the Tigers in parts of four MLB seasons. He played right field, left field, second base, center field, shortstop and third base last season.

The Tigers acquired Castro from the Cleveland Guardians in July 2018 in exchange for outfielder Leonys Martín and right-hander Kyle Dowdy.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers sign catcher Andrew Knapp to minor-league contract

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