Jack Etkin/Forbes.com: Rockies Add Diaz in Search for Catching Depth

Photo by © Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today

TheCowboy

By Jack Etkin/Forbes.com

DENVER -- Acquiring a catcher has been an offseason priority for the Rockies. They accomplished that objective by signing Elias Diaz to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

This hardly qualifies as a major move. But it was a long-awaited one. Diaz, 29, will compete with Drew Butera, 36, to spell Tony Wolters, 27, who emerged last season as the Rockies’ regular catcher as he appeared in 112 games behind the plate and made 102 starts.

Wolters is a left-handed hitter. Diaz and Butera bat right-handed.

Diaz appeared in a career-high 101 games last year for the Pirates. That included 96 games at catcher and 75 starts, both career-highs.

He slashed .241/.296/.307 last year with two homers and 28 RBI in 332 plate appearances but was sidelined most of spring training with a viral infection and didn’t make his 2019 debut until April 22 in the Pirates’ 20th game. Diaz became a free agent when he was non-tendered by the Pirates, who have catchers Jacob Stallings and Luke Maile on their 40-man roster.

A native of Venezuela, Diaz signed as an international free agent with the Pirates in 2008, began his professional career the following year and made his major league debut with the Pirates in September 2015. In 250 games in the majors, Diaz has slashed .250/.301/.355 with 13 home runs and 82 RBI.

Earlier this offseason, the Rockies re-signed Butera to a minor league contract. He has played 26 games with the Rockies the past two seasons and last year at their Triple-A affiliate slashed .300/.389/.511 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 67 games.

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