Veteran catcher Luke Carlin will be returning to the Cleveland Indians in 2014 on a minor league free agent deal.
The team announced the move on Twitter early Friday morning. Carlin, 33, appeared in 138 games for Triple-A Columbus and 10 for the Indians from 2010-2012. He spent last season in the Los Angeles Angels organization, batting .230/.339/.311 in 77 games over in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
As of now, as Indians Baseball Insider’s Tony Lastoria quipped on Twitter yesterday, the Tribe lacks many viable big-league backup catching options. Yan Gomes is expected to be the new everyday catcher. Carlos Santana is reportedly preparing for possibly regular duty at third base. After that, the only other option is 37-year-old Matt Treanor, who also was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
In 2013, Santana made 81 starts at catcher, Gomes made 79 and since-departed Lou Marson made the other two. Gomes is only 26 and only had 178 games of catching experience in the minor leagues. So the Indians rightfully should have some concerns about how many games he can catch in 2014.
Carlin is a boring signing. But he has familiarity with the Indians organization and will likely remain as an emergency backup option over with the Clippers. So in that sense, it’s a safe move for the organization.
The Indians recently invited catching prospect Roberto Perez to big league spring training. The 25-year-old is regarded as the best defensive catching prospect in the system. But he batted just .200/.337/.286 in 350 plate appearances between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus last season. So he’s not really a viable MLB option at this point.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.