The San Francisco Giants deepened their catching bench to start 2021, with their signing on Monday of former Reds catcher Curt Casali.
Casali, 32, has a career batting slash of .230/.316/.413 over his seven year career, playing with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cincinnati Reds. In 2020, he appeared in 31 games, batting .224/.366/.500, with three doubles and six home runs. With the Reds, Casali showed and increase ability to take walks, which he connects with a little bit of power to keep his OPS high.
In the fall of 2018, Casali had the same hip surgery that Buster Posey went through. It was his second surgery on his right hip, which had previously been worked on in 2017. He has been healthy since the surgery, though.
The contract is a one-year, $1.5 million deal. He will have the opportunity to earn a $500,000 bonus if he’s on the Opening Day roster, and has performances bonuses of $125,000 each for 30, 60, 90, and 120 days on the 25-man roster.
The catcher was originally drafted in 2011, in the 10th round by the Detroit Tigers. He joined the Rays organization in 2013 as part of the trade so the Tigers could keep a Rule 5 selection, Kyle Lobstein. Lobstein himself was originally taken in the Rule 5 draft by the New York Mets, but was traded the same day to the Tigers for cash.
He had quite a single offseason moving between teams after he was granted free agency after the 2017 season. He left the Rays to sign with the Los Angeles Angels in December, only to be released in January. A few days later he signed with the Texas Rangers, who released him in mid-March. He signed back with the Rays a day later, but in May of that year, the Cincinnati Red purchased his contract from Tampa Bay. That’s four teams in six months.
Casali joins a crowded group of catchers on the 40-man roster, now with four backstops. The newcomer will likely batting Chadwick Tromp for the role of backing up the returning Buster Posey. Joey Bart is expected to start the season in Sacramento, but any success there will likely mean he’ll force himself onto the Major League Roster.
He and Mike Yastrzemski are reportedly close friends from their time in college at Vanderbilt, according to beat writer Andy Baggarly. The team now has a quartet of former Vanderbilt players
To make room on the roster, the Giants officially released Andrew Suarez off the Major League roster. Suarez’s contract was sold to the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization.