Depth Level: Poor
40-man option: Ramon Cabrera (AAA-AA)
It looks very much like Bryan Holaday will start the season as the Alex Avila’s backup in Detroit, which means the immediate catcher depth in the system will be light. Ramon Cabrera gets the nod here because he’s currently on the 40-man roster, but James McCann is the better long-term prospect and will probably get the everyday job in AAA.
Cabrera is more of an offensive catcher – he played more games at DH in the minors last year than he did behind the plate – so he wouldn’t appear be your stereotypical glove-first backup, but of the catcher in the high minors (we’re really just talking McCann and Cabrera here), he might be the one best suited to hit big league pitching right now (which isn’t to say he would be entirely successful at it).
If something really bad happened at the catcher position where they would be looking at more than just a very short-term replacement, the Tigers would probably be inclined to check into trading for someone else’s second or third catcher (or simply make Brad Ausmus a player-manager).
The Tigers saved themselves $700,000 or so by allowing Brayan Pena to walk in free agency, but bringing Holaday to the big leagues really cuts team’s depth at the catcher position. Both McCann and Cabrera would likely perform below replacement level in the big leagues in 2014.