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Bryan Holaday signs minor league deal with Orioles

The veteran backup catcher enjoyed the best offensive season of his pro career with the 2019 Marlins.

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Journeyman catcher Bryan Holaday will report to spring training next month as a member of the Orioles, according to FNTSY Sports Radio’s Craig Mish. He has inked a minor league deal after electing free agency in November.

Holaday spent the past two seasons with the Marlins. He was all-glove/no-bat during the 2018 campaign, slashing .205/.261/.258 (43 wRC+) with a National League-leading 44.7% caught-stealing rate and the best pitch-framing metrics of his career.

Then last year, Chad Wallach beat him out for the backup job behind Jorge Alfaro, with Holaday going down to Triple-A New Orleans. He posted a 93 wRC+ in 118 plate appearances while in the Pacific Coast League before Wallach’s concussion created an opening at the major league level. The 31-year-old was shockingly solid in the batter’s box—.278/.344/.435, 104 wRC+ in 129 PA, setting a new MLB career-high with four home runs—the rest of the way. Problem is, there was some slippage in his defense; Statcast tracked a 81.9 mph average velocity on his 2018 throws compared to 78.1 mph in 2019, and after earning called strikes on 48.9% of borderline pitches the first year, he dipped to 43.6%.

The Marlins had the opportunity to retain Holaday via the arbitration process. Instead, they removed him from their 40-man roster following the season and attempted to outright him to the minors. He declined the assignment and became a free agent. Francisco Cervelli will fill his shoes after signing a one-year, $2 million deal.

Originally drafted by the Tigers in 2010, Holaday has since passed through the Rangers, Red Sox, Phillies, Marlins and now Orioles organizations.

In addition to catching, the Texas Christian University product is a capable emergency pitcher with four career relief outings. Seems relevant to the O’s, who could find themselves on the wrong end of many blowouts in 2020 as the clear weak link of the NL East.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Fish Stripes thanks Holaday for his contributions the past two seasons and wishes him the best of luck.