What is going on with the Detroit Tigers catchers?

Something seems odd about the Detroit Tigers' catching situation. Carson Kelly doesn't seem to fit on any team except the Tigers, and Dillon Dingler stays in the minors.
Dillon Dingler catches a ball at Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts.
Dillon Dingler catches a ball at Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts. / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

Jake Rogers has taken the helm as the Detroit Tigers' primary catcher. Has he deserved that role? Maybe, maybe not. Carson Kelly is somehow the Tigers' backup catcher. Why? Veteran leadership? It can't be much else. Dillon Dingler appears to have taken on the role as the next prospect that the Tigers forgot about. A prospect can indeed be called up too early, but there is also an issue with letting a prospect rot away in the minors. So what are they waiting for? An invitation? Scott Harris to have an idea spark in his head? Who knows, at this point.

Dillon Dingler was drafted out of Ohio State in the second round of the 2020 draft. The kid has been stellar in the minors. He has slashed .244/.335/.434 in the minors overall. They aren't overly impressive numbers, but he is a catcher, so the offense isn't necessarily priority number one. The priority is defense, and a career .991 fielding percentage is a nice look. This leads to the question of his leadership, another important quality for a catcher. That is usually kept in-house, and nothing has been publicly said about his character.

Jake Rogers had a breakout year in 2023, hitting .221 with 21 home runs as the Tigers' starting catcher. The 21 home runs are nice; the .221 batting average and the .286 OBP are not. There is certainly some room for improvement there. The problem is that WAS improvement and Jake is going into his age 29 season. That isn't to say that the team needs to give up on him entirely; that is not true. However, to say he has locked up this job long-term would be a stretch. Throughout the minors, along with his professionalism and leadership, Rogers' offense has always come into question.

Former Tiger manager Ron Gardenhire left Rogers off the Opening Day roster because of his lack of attention to detail in a game, often tossing the ball around behind the plate without much care. What was not questionable was his elite defense. That was always his selling point. Some said he had an arm like Ivan Rodriguez and was elite at throwing out runners. In 2023, Rogers threw out just 13% of potential base stealers. That ranked 36th in the MLB. He rarely made errors, posting a .990 fielding percentage, but his defense is not at a level where he can get away with hitting .220.

Carson Kelly is an interesting situation. He is a veteran. There is no problem having a veteran presence on a team. The problem is Kelly is not productive. Kelly hit .206 with the Tigers last year. That is not an MLB hitter. He is soon to be 30 years old. He is what he is at this point. His defense is fine, but again, not good enough to allow a .206 average. There was a reason he was a free agent for most of last year. I see what the Tigers were doing last year after the Eric Haase debacle, which ultimately ended in his release, but to re-sign him this season seems...well, like something Scott Harris would think is a good idea.

The Detroit Tigers need to let Dillon Dingler share starts with Jake Rogers.

To me, this is a simple fix, Carson Kelly can find a job elsewhere, and if you want him in a leadership role that badly, tell him he can coach for you or go to Toledo and work with minor league catchers. That leaves Rogers and Dingler in the rotation for catcher. You can't bring a prospect up and have him sit on the bench, but a platoon seems very realistic.

Let Dingler get a shot in the league, see big-league pitching, and see if he can handle the pressure if he is eased into action. Then, you also have a backup plan if Rogers loses his power and struggles this season. Don't let Dillon rot in Toledo; Don't let him play in Detroit.