Eric Fryer has lived the life of a fringe major leaguer since 2011, bouncing between levels and organizations. In 2016, he suited up for a career-high 60 big league games; 24 with St. Louis, 36 with Pittsburgh. He batted .368 in 38 Cardinals at-bats but slumped to a .211 batting average in a 92 at-bat sample with the Bucs. He's hit only two homers in 291 career plate appearances, and at 31 years old, Fryer's chances of suddenly gaining fantasy relevance are slim (to put it nicely). However, he will get a chance to compete for a roster spot with the Cardinals in spring training.
Fryer's contract was purchased from Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. Fryer was a shoo-in to open the year as the Cardinals' backup catcher, as the team's top catching prospect, Carson Kelly, will be sent to Triple-A to get everyday at-bats to further his development. If anything should happen to Molina, however, Kelly, not Fryer, would be the likely option to come up and take over the everyday duties. This makes Fryer pretty unappealing, even in very deep leagues.
Fryer went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, two RBI and two runs in Friday's 7-1 Grapefruit League win over the Nationals. The reserve backstop drove in his first runs since Feb. 27 with a fourth-inning single that plated Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham. Given his solid contact rate and above-average defense behind the dish, Fryer looks like a viable option when 34-year-old Yadier Molina is given days off this season.
Fryer went 2-for-2 with a two-RBI single, triple and two runs in Sunday's 7-4 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins. The reserve backstop singled in Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham to open the scoring for the Cardinals in the second. He added a three-bagger in the fourth and subsequently scored on an Aledmys Diaz sacrifice fly. Fryer, back with the team after being lost on a waiver claim to the Pirates last season, is expected to serve as Yadier Molina's backup in the coming campaign.
Fryer signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals on Monday that includes an invitation to spring training. The 31-year-old backstop is a solid defensive option, but has a career 85 wRC+ and just two home runs in 291 career plate appearances in the big leagues. Look for him to serve as organizational depth at Triple-A.
Fryer was non-tendered by the Pirates on Friday and is now a free agent. Fryer holds a .254/.332/.328 line in 291 career plate appearances and will go looking for a team in need of backup catcher. His fantasy value remains negligible, but there should be a team that values him as decent catching depth.