Royals designate catcher George Kottaras for assignment

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After signing left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract this afternoon, the Royals have designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Kottaras was claimed off waivers from the Athletics last winter and played sparingly this past season with Salvador Perez carrying most of the load behind the plate. The 30-year-old appeared in a total 46 games (29 starts) and hit just .180/.349/.370 with five home runs and 12 RBI over 126 plate appearances.

Kottaras has some power and a knack for getting on base, so he could be a useful part-time catcher depending on where he ends up next.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.