Detroit Tigers: Bryan Holaday the Utility Player?
Even with Jarrod Saltalamacchia in camp, Bryan Holaday could still make the Detroit Tigers roster as a utility player.
When the Detroit Tigers signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the summer, it was widely assumed that the nine-year veteran would take over as James McCann’s backup behind the plate due to his power—Saltalamacchia has averaged 15 home runs per season since 2011.
While this was good news for the Tigers, as Salty has the potential to be a powerful addition to a previously-lacking bench, it wasn’t good news for Bryan Holaday.
Holaday was in line to take over for Alex Avila as the second catcher on the Detroit roster, but the arrival of Saltalamacchia threw a monkey wrench in all that.
While Saltalamacchia is a more proven option than Holaday at this point, the incumbent Tiger could still make the team. Catcher is certainly a possibility. The 28-year-old has more experience with Detroit’s pitching staff, and has shown a knack for hitting early in Spring Training. Entering Saturday, Holaday had three hits in four plate appearances, including a double and a grand slam. That was before the team’s contest against the Washington Nationals when the backstop add two more home runs to his tally.
However, even if Saltalamacchia claims the role of backup catcher, Holaday might still make the team as a… utility player?
Yes, as a utility player.
Holaday recently saw time at third base in the spring game, a decision that manager Brad Ausmus and the catcher discussed in the offseason. According to a tweet from MLB.com’s Jason Beck, “Ausmus said he talked with Holaday about utility work in the offseason, before they signed Aviles and Upton. Still gonna try it out.”
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For his career, in both the minors and majors, Holaday hasn’t strayed much from behind the plate. He’s played a couple innings at first base, an inning at second base and two thirds of an inning as a pitcher at Triple-A.
While he has little experience at other positions, a move to a utility role would certainly improve the player’s chances of making the team—not to mention Detroit’s depth. Holaday is obviously facing a battle to make the team, and the ability to play a number of positions would certainly help.
Ausmus voiced a similar opinion, noting that the catcher’s “value as a player goes up.” The manager was quoted in a tweet from Beck as saying “As much as it’s an option for us, down the road it could be a bigger option for Bryan Holaday. His value as a player goes up.”
What’s more, Detroit already employs two players capable of players at least four positions in Mike Aviles an Andrew Romine. Adding a third player capable of playing multiple positions would give Ausmus a number of options and significant flexibility during games.
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It remains to be seen if Holaday will end up making the team, either as a catcher or a utility player. However, his potential versatility certainly helps.