Analyzing the addition of Carson Kelly to the Detroit Tigers.
The Detroit Tigers went out and made some noise in the transaction arena and in their fanbase with some of their moves on Saturday. The noteworthy transaction being a swap of their catchers to shake things up with the backstop situation.
The move that had the Detroit Tigers faithful raising some questions was the move to designate veteran catcher Eric Haase for assignment, ending his four-year tenure with the Tigers organization. He was slashing .201/.246/.284 with eight doubles and four home runs with 26 RBI to his credit.
It's a move that shocked many, rightfully so. Even though his numbers may not have been the most exciting, Haase was a piece of the puzzle lately. However, the Tigers opted to shake things up, which meant bringing in a new body to suit up behind the dish.
The Tigers' second move of Saturday was announcing that they had agreed to a big-league contract with catcher Carson Kelly. The deal also includes a club option for the 2024 season worth around $3.5 million, allowing the Tigers to keep the backstop if they choose.
Putting the Haase news aside, or at least trying to focus on things moving forward, let's analyze the team's new backstop. Kelly is a 29-year-old backstop who began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he has spent the last five years.
For the Tigers, it's an upgrade defensively, meaning that he will be able to join the Tigers' backstop situation and arguably play as the "1B" option behind Jake Rogers for the time being. Kelly has played in 32 games for the Diamondbacks in 2023, where he's slashed .226/.283/.298 over 92 plate appearances.
It may not be the most exciting offensive upgrade, but Kelly averages around a 1.95 pop time and is able to cut down runners at a better rate than Haase. He may not be heading toward a Gold Glove Award nomination, but it's a step up defensively from where Haase was.
Kelly's coming into Detroit with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He's got to jump in and prove to be a viable option behind the dish for several reasons. First off, Kelly has to fill the shoes of Haase offensively, and even in a rough year for Haase, he's got to get his bat working.
But the Tigers are likely aiming to buy time for Dillon Dingler to make the jump to the big leagues. They also have Donny Sands in the minors, who seemingly deserve a look at some point. But the development is going to play a big factor for Dingler.
Kelly's role will likely be a stopgap until Dingler can arrive, but there's some iffy-ness to that statement, as Dingler has to jump to the big leagues and prove he's a solid option. Kelly will come in and fill the "1B" role behind Rogers, who has had an excellent "breakout season" in 2023.
The big thing for Kelly is going to be earning himself a spot with the Tigers 2024 roster with a good performance down the stretch in 2023.