They may still make another move to add catching help following news that Yadier Molina will be out 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament, but in the meantime the Cardinals have claimed veteran catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians.
Kottaras has low batting averages and struggles to throw out base-stealers, but his combination of power and plate discipline is elite among catchers and his career .741 OPS is well above average for the position.
He’s never topped 250 plate appearances in a season, so at age 31 he’s unlikely to thrive as a regular, but the Cardinals should be able to get decent production from Kottaras playing him a few times per week. He’s topped a .700 OPS every season since 2010, posting a combined .330 on-base percentage and .420 slugging percentage during that time.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.