Chris Herrmann right choice as backup catcher

Chris Herrmann (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Herrmann (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

With all the position players in competition having good offensive springs,  roster decisions are going to be weighted heavily on how many at-bats each guy can get, and the positional versatility of each guy.

“When you start having decisions about guys that have had this kind of spring, and you’re trying to figure out how many at-bats — more on the position players’ side — you’ve got a great situation,” Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa said. “We just spent an hour-and-a-half discussing these great young players, including Brandon Drury, and where they fit and how they fit, it’s a great problem to have.”

One of the final roster decisions the D-backs’ brass must make is who will be the backup catcher– a battle that had raged all spring between last year’s Opening Day catcher Tuffy Gosewisch and the newly-acquired Chris Herrmann.

At this point, I don’t see why the Diamondbacks wouldn’t go with Herrmann for several reasons.

The D-backs were questioned by many for trading a C+ prospect with upside in Daniel Palka to the Twins to get a 28-year-old that has yet to lock down a consistent spot on a major league roster partly because his impressive minor league hitting numbers have yet to carry over.

However, Herrmann has easily had the best spring of his career, and he is out of minor league options. So the Diamondbacks have to keep him on the 40-man roster or they risk passing him t hrough waivers. Comparatively speaking, Gosewisch still has all three options left.

Herrmann gives Chip Hale another left-handed bat off the bench to go to late in the game, or to start in a lineup that will be right-handed heavy. It gives the pitcher on the mound a different look, and Hale said he wanted to have flexibility and offense.

"“We felt like having more flexibility with the offensive guy, the last guy,” rather than carrying another catcher, Hale said. “We’re not sure who that’s going to be yet, either, but we’re obviously narrowing that down.”"

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Unlike Gosewisch, Herrmann can also play in the outfield and first base, allowing Chip Hale to give Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta and others rest at those positions more rest.

Gosewisch might be the better defensive catcher overall, but Herrmann is not a bad defender himself– and in some areas he actually is stronger. His fielding percentage is slightly lower the league average in 69 career games. Herrmann’s 38 percent caught-stealing rate is nine points higher than the league average.

He can handle a pitching staff, and according to Fan Graphs, his defensive rating was higher than Gosewisch’s albeit in less innings but both were backups for most of the season.

According to Inside Fielding numbers, Herrmann had the better fielding percentage on remote and unlikely plays, showing he is a better defender than the peripherals show.

Keeping Herrmann allows the Diamondbacks the opportunity to carry three catchers if necessary; Gosewich still has all three options and he started the season as the backup to Welington Castillo. The Diamondbacks may not be able to keep Herrmann if he is demoted.

The Diamondbacks traded for Hermann with the intent of making him the Saltalamacchia half of the Castillo-Saltalamacchia tandem they had last year, and considering the WAA they put up together, the Diamondbacks should be just fine.