Tribe signs Rupp to Minors deal with ST invite

February 7th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- After catcher Eric Haase was designated for assignment by the Indians and traded to the Tigers on Jan. 8, the Tribe has lacked depth behind the plate. Now, the team is trying to address the need.

On Friday afternoon, the Indians announced they had signed free-agent catcher to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The 31-year-old becomes the 20th player to receive a non-roster invitation from the Tribe.

Rupp played for the Phillies for five seasons (2013-17) and posted a career average of .234 with 57 doubles, 39 homers and 124 RBIs in 296 games. He was a third-round Draft pick by Philadelphia in 2010. Over the past two seasons, Rupp spent time at Triple-A with the Twins, Mariners, Rangers, Giants, Tigers and A’s. In 2018, he hit a combined .223 with a .745 OPS, 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 86 games. In ’19, he slashed .226/.326/.441 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs.

Without Haase, the Indians are missing their third catcher. The club currently has Roberto Pérez as its starter and newly acquired Sandy León as its backup. Haase, the Tribe’s No. 27 prospect in 2018 per MLB Pipeline, hit .226 with an .832 OPS in Triple-A Columbus in 2019. He played in 10 games for the Indians and went just 1-for-16 (.063) with a homer. Now, his role as the emergency catcher needs to be filled.

Rupp will join catchers Gavin Collins, Kungkuan Giljegiljaw and Beau Taylor as non-roster invitees at camp next week. Taylor, 29, signed as a Minor League free agent on Dec. 6, and he’s been the early favorite to replace Haase as the club’s third catcher. Giljegiljaw, 25, previously played under the name Li-Jen Chu but changed to his aboriginal Taiwanese name this offseason. He slashed .229/.290/.357 in 60 games at Double-A Akron, and Collins, 24, spent the 2019 season with Class A Advanced Lynchburg, hitting .262 with a .720 OPS.