Eric Haase is out and Carson Kelly is in as the Tigers shake up their catching


Share post:

CLEVELAND — Before the Detroit Tigers loaded the bus and headed to the hotel Friday night in Cleveland, A.J. Hinch called catcher Eric Haase in for a meeting. And like that, the hometown kid who lived out a dream in the summer of 2021, the grizzled catcher who came into this season established on the roster for the first time, was gone.

The Tigers designated Haase for assignment after Friday night’s game. The next afternoon, former Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly was walking out on the field in uniform, still carrying a D-Backs bag on his shoulder. This is the business of baseball in action. One player gone, another here. The schedule moves on without sentiment.

Still, there was an odd feeling around the Tigers on Saturday as they traverse forward without the player who hit 36 home runs across the 2021 and 2022 seasons for his hometown team and was a large part of the team’s emotional core.

Important as Haase was to the club, his performance had been waning all season. Known as a bat-first catcher, Haase simply never got going this season. He ends his time as a Tiger this year hitting .201 with only four home runs and a 46 OPS+. Once viewed as a lefty killer, Haase was hitting only .129 against left-handed pitching this season. And so the Tigers finally decided it was time for a change.

“It’s tough to deliver that type of news to someone who is universally liked, loved, respected,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He had some really cool moments for us here. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone great this year.”

Eric Haase (Lon Horwedel / USA Today)

Only a few days ago, Kelly was on the other end of a similar conversation. The Diamondbacks designated him for assignment on Tuesday. Kelly, 29, is a former top-100 prospect who has long been hailed in scouting circles. Kelly has battled injuries over the past two seasons but was a standout performer in 2019, when he hit 18 home runs with a .348 on-base percentage and strong defensive metrics, too. Kelly has never since replicated his 2019 season, though as he pointed out, some of this has been out of his control.

In May of 2021, Kelly fractured his left toe. In June of 2021, he suffered a fracture in his right wrist, breaking two bones. In May of 2022, he went on the injured list with a Grade 2 oblique strain.

Kelly entered this season hoping for a bounceback and expecting to be part of a strong catching tandem alongside Gabriel Moreno. But Kelly took a 101 mph fastball off the wrist on March 20, toward the end of spring training. He went on to miss four months.

“I think it’s gonna make me a better person because of it and a better player,” Kelly said. “I’ve had a lot of time to think and work on things, and this is gonna be a great place for me.”

Upon his return to the Diamondbacks, Kelly hit only .226 with one home run in 32 games. Now he comes to the Tigers on a major-league deal with a $3.5 million player option for the 2024 season. The Tigers view Kelly as more likely to be part of next year’s roster than Haase would have been. So now Kelly faces a crash course: getting to know a whole new pitching staff and navigating batters from the American League.

“What do we got, six weeks left?” Kelly said. “Definitely an interesting time, but these guys were one of the ones to call right away and show interest. Talking with A.J. and seeing the staff and the young pitchers that are here, it’s impressive, and it’s something that I could see going in a really good direction.”

On paper, Kelly has not exactly been more productive than Haase over the past two seasons. But over the course of his career, he has graded out as slightly above-average pitch framer. His blocking has been close to league average, and he grades out slightly below average when it comes to controlling the running game.

“We think there’s some areas we can address to make him better,” Hinch said. “We think we can improve his receiving. He’s got some power. He’s got experience. He’s had some really freakish injuries that have held him back a little bit, but he’s a well-rounded catcher. We like the contact skills. We have a plan in place to get him up and running.”

Before Haase left the Tigers’ clubhouse Friday evening, Jake Rogers — who has seized the bulk of playing time at catcher — gave his teammate a hug. Rogers told Haase, “I’ll probably see you in a month or two raking for another team.”

Less than 24 hours later, Haase’s replacement sat atop the dugout bench ready to embrace this new opportunity.

“It’s definitely tough,” Kelly said of getting designated for assignment, “But at the end of the day, it’s a business and you understand.”

(Top photo of Carson Kelly: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Source link

Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

Recent posts

Related articles

Top 50 running back re-ranks: Our fantasy football experts explain their rankings, NFL beat writers chime in and more

With complete chaos in the first three weeks of fantasy football, we asked two of our experts,...

Yankees takeaways: Austin Wells’ surge, Frankie Montas’ possible return, Aaron Judge’s toe

TORONTO — Catcher Austin Wells started the season at Double A when his close friend, Anthony Volpe,...

Adam Wainwright has thrown his final pitch: ‘I’m at peace with all of it’

MILWAUKEE — After taking the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals every fifth day for over 15...

How Easton Cowan became the biggest surprise in Maple Leafs training camp

Easton Cowan’s eyes grew wider with every passing second.The forward, 18, was standing at one end of...

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco expresses support for 5+7 College Football Playoff format

Change appears to be coming to the 12-team College Football Playoff format.American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco...

Georgia’s Ladd McConkey could play vs. Auburn, 3 other key players set to return

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey has a chance to make his season debut on Saturday...

With Jeff Greenberg as GM, Scott Harris expects ‘true partnership’ in Tigers front office

DETROIT — The first time Scott Harris met Jeff Greenberg, Harris was a new hire with the...

Premier League gap for promoted clubs bigger, says Marco Silva: ‘Difficult to do what Fulham did’

Marco Silva believes the gap between the Premier League and the Championship is increasing and that it...