It might not be headline news, but the Colorado Rockies have added catcher Michael McKenry to their 40 man roster, while before he had been participating in spring training with a minor league deal. We have seen this kind of thing before, as soon as this week in our own NL West. The Los Angeles Dodgers added Chone Figgins and Justin Turner to their 40 man roster earlier this week, and while it seemed insignificant at the time, both players traveled to Australia with the team having won bench jobs. Has Michael McKenry done the same or is Jordan Pacheco still the backup catcher?
When I wrote my post on the opening day roster a few days ago, I had Pacheco on the roster and McKenry in AAA. My reasoning was simple: Michael McKenry has a AAA option left, and Pacheco does not. That means that, if Pacheco doesn’t make the big league team out of spring training, he can’t be sent back down to AAA and must be released. I just didn’t think the Rockies were ready to cut bait on Pacheco yet, but it looks like I was mistaken. The addition of McKenry hints that Pacheco will in fact be released and McKenry will make the big league team.
Based off of spring training and his major league history, Michael McKenry is not a great or even a particularly good hitter. But what really separates him from Pacheco is his defense; while McKenry is an average to above average catcher, Pacheco is below average and probably even worse than that. Catcher is not Pacheco’s natural position, and it shows. Since Wilin Rosario isn’t a good defender at catcher either and will likely have to move off the position sooner rather than later, having a good defender at backup is absolutely vital.
If you asked a hundred baseball analysts and Rockies fans who they thought was the better all-around catcher, I don’t think many people would say that Jordan Pacheco is a better catcher than Michael McKenry. The real question was whether or not the Rockies had soured on Pacheco enough to cut him and risk losing him during the waiver process. Based off of the addition of McKenry to the 40 man roster, it seems like the answer to that question is a definitive “yes”. And that’s fortunate for Rockies fans, because, and I’m not trying to be harsh on Pacheco here, as catcher is his second or even third position, we can finally see an established veteran backup catcher, and maybe even someone who can teach Wilin Rosario a thing or two about defense.