When the Colorado Rockies acquired veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline, the team needed room on the 25-man roster to bring him on board. With that in mind, the team optioned catcher Tony Wolters to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday.
With Wolters heading to Triple-A, the Rockies will use veteran catchers Lucroy and Ryan Hanigan behind the plate to work with Colorado’s young pitching corps.
On the season, Wolters is hitting .248 with no homers and 14 RBI along with an OBP of .345 and OPS of .642. That’s in 202 at-bats, almost the same number of at-bats as Wolters had in the 2016 season (205) but all numbers are down from last season, except for a slight uptick in OBP.
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Lucroy will make his debut at Coors Field against the New York Mets this week with a .242 average along with four homers and 27 RBI. In certainly a down year for the two-time All-Star, the Rockies are hoping he can rediscover the swing that made him one of the best behind the plate during his National League days with the Milwaukee Brewers.
While Wolters has developed a reputation as one of the game’s top pitch framers, he has struggled in other areas. His WAR of -0.9 is slightly worse than Lucroy’s -0.4 and, as we pointed out in this article just after Lucroy was acquired, Lucroy has thrown out 29.5 percent of would-be base stealers this season. That’s an improvement in that area. Additionally, his catcher ERA ranks 23rd among 30 qualified catchers. Wolters ranks 29th.
As the Rockies have acquired Lucroy and Hanigan as the season has gone along, Colorado now has a bounty of catching talent at Triple-A Albuquerque. As of Tuesday morning, four catchers were on the roster, including Wolters, Dustin Garneau and Tom Murphy, all of whom have seen action with the Rockies in 2017.
With the move, Colorado is signaling they want experience behind the plate for the final 56 regular-season games as the Rockies continue to make their playoff push. It also means they want Wolters to improve his game before he is likely called back up with the September roster expansion (if not before because of injury).