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Veteran Catcher Elects Free Agency

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Cam Gallagher has reportedly declared his intention to become a free agent, as stated on his official MLB.com profile page.

Earlier this week, the Guardians designated Gallagher for assignment; he presumably cleared waivers and elected to pursue free agency instead of accepting an unconditional assignment to the Triple-A affiliate of Cleveland.

Due to his prior experience of being outrighted, Gallagher possesses the prerogative to decline any forthcoming outright assignments.

Gallagher appeared to be an obvious non-tender candidate prior to the Guardians acquiring Christian Bethancourt from the Rays via waivers; that action prompted Gallagher’s DFA.

Gallagher hit a dismal.126/.154/.168 in 149 plate appearances for the Guardians in 2023; this resulted in an abhorrent -17 wRC+, the lowest of any player in baseball with at least 140 PA.

The Guards utilized seven different players at catcher in the previous season, a disastrous situation precipitated by offseason acquisition Mike Zunino’s appalling struggles at the plate.

Bo Naylor was permanently promoted from Triple-A and Zunino was designated for assignment in June, resulting in a backstop rotation.

After demonstrating improved performance with his bat towards the end of the season, the former top prospect appears to have firmly established himself as the Guardians’ starting catcher moving forward.

This will presumably infuse some energy into a position where Cleveland has struggled offensively for the past few seasons.

With Naylor, Bethancourt, and utilityman David Fry occasionally catching, Gallagher had no chance of competing for backup employment.

It appears probable that Gallagher will be relegated to a reserve role in Spring Training and must settle for another minor league contract in 2024, despite the fact that he is projected to earn $1.3M through arbitration.

Gallagher, who will turn 31 next month, has appeared in 227 Major League Baseball games during seven seasons with the Royals and Guardians, accumulating 618 PA with a slash line of.211/.266/.307.

Gallagher is a fairly highly regarded defender despite his lackluster offense, and 2023 was at the very least a very strong year for him in the defensive end. Based on data provided by Statcast, Gallagher exhibited exceptional proficiency in framing and blocking, and he threw out nine of fifty-two baserunners for his first-ever positive grade (+1) in the metric of catcher steals of runs.

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