Las season could not have gone much worse for Bryan Holaday, who ended the season as the fourth-string catcher for the Red Sox and was non-tendered in December. He batted .231 with two home runs and 14 RBI in his 129 plate appearances spread across 44 games following a 2015 season that showed some promise. He struggled to draw walks, as he took a base on balls in just 5.4 percent of his plate appearances while striking out 21.7 percent of the time. Defensively he was his usual solid self. The 29-year-old threw out runners on 38 percent of attempted steals last season and allowed just one passed ball in 314.2 innings. The Phillies brought him aboard on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, and he seems to have the inside track at breaking camp as Cameron Rupp's backup. However, once Jorge Alfaro or Andrew Knapp show that they are ready, Holaday would likely head to Triple-A to serve as organizational depth.
The Tigers signed Holaday to a minor-league contract Friday, and he'll be assigned to Triple-A Toledo. The backstop has long occupied a backup role in the majors, seeing his busiest workload in 2014 with these same Tigers (171 plate appearances with a .231/.266/.276 line). Holaday could step into similar duty this year, but for now he'll have to wait.
Holaday exercised his opt-out clause with the Phillies on Monday and is now a free agent, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports. The veteran catcher had been in competition for a backup spot behind Cameron Rupp, but upon being informed that he wouldn't make the 25-man roster, he elected to become a free agent. The 29-year-old will look to catch on with another club after spending time with both the Rangers (30 games) and Red Sox (14 games) last season.
Holaday has three hits in 18 at-bats this spring with one home run and four RBI. Holaday has been competing with Andrew Knapp and Ryan Hanigan for the backup role to Cameron Rupp. Knapp is expected to get the backup job but there have been reports the Phillies are considering carrying three catchers, which would give Holaday or Hanigan a shot at breaking camp with the big club.
Holaday agreed to a minor league deal with the Phillies on Saturday that includes an invitation to spring training, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports. Prior to this signing, prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp were the frontrunners for the backup catcher job, but it would make sense if the Phillies used Holaday in that role to buy some time for their youngsters. Either way, Holaday is a subpar offensive catcher and Cameron Rupp will see the bulk of the starts, so he would lack value in the majority of formats.
Holaday was non-tendered by the Red Sox on Friday and is now a free agent. Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez are the clear top two catchers for the Red Sox, and Blake Swihart still lingers as a potential wild card, so there was no reason for Boston to pay Holaday in arbitration or allow him to occupy a 40-man roster spot. He has a career 69 wRC+ and all of his value is tied up in his defense. Look for him to catch on with another team, perhaps on a minor league deal, to serve as organizational catching depth.