With his versatility, Chris Herrmann of the Arizona Diamondbacks could earn a roster spot
During the current offseason, general manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks made the usual amount of transactions.
To this point, no blockbuster signings, like Zack Greinke in the past off-season, and only one, note-worthy deal. That was sending infielder Jean Segura to Seattle for right-hander Taijuan Walker. With the typical amount of player signings and Hazen’s emphasis on bringing more left-hander power to the bench, some battles loom over the course of the upcoming spring training.
In particular, the catching situation needs refinement. After letting Welington Castillo walk after a productive, offensive season in 2016, Hazen decided to go with a pair of veterans, Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta, behind the plate.
That leaves hold-over catchers Oscar Hernandez and Chris Herrmann on the bubble.
Herrmann, in particular, appears to be a minister without portfolio. A catcher by trade, Herrmann is capable of playing infield and outfield positions and started one game in center field last season.
When former general manager Dave Stewart obtained Herrmann from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for outfielder Daniel Palka on Nov. 10, 2015, the Diamondbacks picked up a left-handed bat with low numbers. Previous to the deal, Herrmann possessed a career .181 batting average, 353 plate appearances in 142 games with the Twins over four seasons.
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Given his versatility to catch and play in the field, Herrmann was regarded as an asset. During spring training in mid-March last season, Herrmann was penciled to start at first base in a pre-season game but was scratched because of a hip injury. The injury set him back two weeks during a critical period of spring training but showed the Diamondbacks enough to earn a spot on the 25-man, opening day roster.
Later during the regular season, Herrmann landed on the DL twice, and during the second time, he had surgery to repair two broken bones in his left hand.
Still, Herrmann managed to put up career numbers.
Finishing with a .284 batting average (42-for-148), Herrmann set career-highs in average, runs scored, hits, triple, homers, RBIs, and stolen bases. In the field, he started 29 games behind the plate, three in left field, two in right field and one contest in center.
Herrmann also has the distinction of any player in Arizona franchise history to start games behind the plate and in center field during the same season. In doing so, he was the first in the majors to accomplish this feat since the Tigers’ Brandon Inge in 2008.
Now, Herrmann arrives at Salt River wearing several hats. Despite poor numbers with the Twins, Herrmann proved a reliable hitter with the Diamondbacks and possessed valuable bat off the bench. With the moves Hazen made to acquire left-handed hitting with outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Gregor Blanco, Herrmann will have to battle for a roster spot.
Then again, if Hazen and field manager Torey Lovullo want to carry three catchers, Herrmann’s versatility could be a significant asset.