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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Bryan Holaday

The journeyman catcher looks to handle the backup spot for the Marlins again in 2019.

MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Holaday proved to be a valuable option for the Marlins in 2018 backing up catcher J.T. Realmuto. He will look to continue in that role this season as well, this time offering his veteran presence to Jorge Alfaro.

How did he get here? Signed a minor league contract in November 2017, re-signed in December 2018.

2018 MLB Stats: .205/.261/.258, 1 HR, 49 OPS+ in 61 G

2019 ZiPS Projection: .218/.263/.316, 4 HR, 60 OPS+ in 77 G

What can we expect from Holaday in 2019?

The 31-year-old Texan is expected to battle with Chad Wallach for the backup spot behind the toolsy yet unpolished Alfaro. Wallach has the luxury of a 40-man roster spot, whereas Holaday is a non-roster invitee at Marlins camp and must earn his way onto the club. He has plenty of incentive to do so: his contract calls for a $1.25 million salary in the majors this season.

Holaday appeared on the Swings and Mishes podcast shortly after agreeing to terms to explain his free-agent thought process:

“I had some offers from other teams and we’re going back and forth. At the end of the day, I had some really good talks with Mike Hill and everybody from the Marlins. It’s just a great opportunity for me and I loved my time there and I loved being there. I love what they’re doing with the organization and I truly believe in it. I was thrilled to get an offer to come back, so I jumped on it.”

Looking at his batting stats, Holaday will not jump out to you as someone who will be that crucial to Miami’s success. His real impact comes behind the plate. Throughout his career, he has allowed only seven passed balls in nearly 1,400 innings. He played errorless defense in 2018 while throwing out an amazing 45 percent of attempted base-stealers.

Last season, Holaday collected hits in just 27 out of 61 games for a .205 BA. Backing up Alfaro rather than the established Realmuto means he could be leaned on for more playing time, so that won’t cut it. At least he compares favorably to Wallach and his .178 mark in limited action.

New Marlins special advisor Jorge Posada—a five-time All-Star with the Yankees—describes his role as being geared more toward helping prospects. But don’t be surprised if he has input in the Holaday vs. Wallach decision.