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Orioles sign veteran catcher Bryan Holaday to minor league contract

In the wake of the Orioles’ trades of Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias expressed that the club’s biggest needs for the offseason would be in the middle infield, starting rotation and catching depth. Through free agency, he has seemingly addressed all three.

The Orioles announced Monday that they have signed veteran catcher Bryan Holaday to a minor league contract. Holaday, 32, has hit .241/.287/.340 in an eight-year major league career spent mostly with the Detroit Tigers, though he spent the past two seasons as a backup with the Miami Marlins and split the 2016 season between Texas and Boston. A career backup, the Texas native has never played more than 62 major league games in a season.

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Holaday provides depth behind a catching group that features Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns. Severino and Sisco served as a platoon for most of the 2019 season and figure to reprise those roles in 2020, though the new 26th major league roster spot could offer the Orioles the flexibility to carry a third catcher should they choose.

Detroit’s 2010 sixth-round pick out of Texas Christian University, Holaday reached the majors in 2012. In 2019 with the Marlins, he split his time between the majors and Triple-A New Orleans, playing 43 games with a .278/.344/.435 batting line for the big league club. He’s been graded as a negative pitch-framer in every season but 2018, per FanGraphs.

His signing likely negates the possibility of the Orioles reuniting with longtime backup catcher Caleb Joseph, whom Elias publicly expressed interest in signing during the team’s Winter Warm-Up event last month. Joseph remains a free agent.

Holaday’s minor league deal joins the major league ones given to right-hander Kohl Stewart and shortstop José Iglesias in addressing the Orioles’ largest offseason needs. Elias will continue to monitor the trade markets for players such as Trey Mancini and Mychal Givens, while Friday’s acquisition of infielder Richard Ureña shows Baltimore will continue to be active on the waiver wire. But with the Orioles having already signed all of their arbitration-eligible players, little remains to be done before pitchers and catchers — the latter group now including Holaday — report to spring training in Sarasota, Florida, in less than a month.

Holding on to Hanhold

Right-hander Eric Hanhold, designated for assignment once the Orioles signed Iglesias, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, the team announced. Hanhold did not pitch after Baltimore claimed him on waivers from the New York Mets in September. The 26-year-old has a 4.64 minor league ERA in his career, pitching mostly in relief since 2017. He made three major league appearances for the Mets in 2018.

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