SAN FRANCISCO -- The Indians took a step toward strengthening their depth behind the plate on Sunday, signing catcher George Kottaras to a Minor League contract, industry sources told MLB.com. The deal, which has not been reported by the club, is pending the completion of a physical.
Cleveland will open the season Monday with two catchers -- Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana -- on the Opening Day roster. Santana will not only serve as the Tribe's backup catcher, but he also projects to garner a significant amount of at-bats as a third baseman this season.
The situation with Gomes and Santana means that Cleveland's two catchers will both be in the starting lineup more often than not. That alone has the potential to create depth and lineup issues in the event of an injury. Complicating matters for the Tribe is the fact that Triple-A catcher Matt Treanor is currently sidelined with a left hamstring injury.
By adding Kottaras, who played for Indians manager Terry Francona in 2008-09 with the Red Sox, the Indians have implemented a contingency plan. The 30-year-old Kottaras could also be an option as a big league backup if the Indians determine that Santana should remain primarily in the infield.
For now, Cleveland plans on using Santana as a cleanup hitter, third baseman, reserve catcher and part-timer at first base and designated hitter.
Kottaras was released by the Cubs on Wednesday after Chicago opted to open the season with John Baker as the backup to starting catcher Welington Castillo. The Cubs acquired Kottaras in exchange for cash from the Royals in November.
Kottaras has played in 295 games for four teams -- Boston, Milwaukee, Oakland and Kansas City -- in parts of six seasons in the Majors, serving mostly in a reserve role. He has posted a .214/.324/.406 slash line in his big league career, but hit just .180/.349/.370 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 46 games for the Royals last season.
CBS Sports first reported that the Indians signed Kottaras on Sunday.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.