The Tigers did a last-minute bit of holiday shopping Wednesday by picking up some veteran catching depth, adding longtime backup Dustin Garneau on a Minor League contract. The deal includes a non-roster invite to big league camp in Spring Training.
The 33-year-old Garneau spent last season backing up Martín Maldonado in Houston. Garneau went 6-for-38 (.158) at the plate with a home run and four RBIs, while throwing out three of 17 basestealers.
Garneau hasn’t played more than 41 games in any of his six big league seasons. His top year came in 2019, when he batted .244 with three homers, 14 RBIs and a .757 OPS in 35 games between the Angels and A’s. He has generally been stronger behind the plate, throwing out 33 percent of would-be basestealers, a rate above the league average of 27 percent over that stretch.
The Tigers will likely keep an eye out for more catching help on the market as the offseason continues. General manager Al Avila told MLB Network Radio that his son, former Tigers catcher Alex Avila, is on their list of free-agent options, but that catching isn’t their top priority as they try to maneuver the Hot Stove market with what is expected to be a limited budget.
If the Tigers don’t add another starter, Garneau will compete with the Tigers’ crop of young catchers, which includes Grayson Greiner, Detroit-area native Eric Haase and Jake Rogers, the No. 12 prospect in the Tigers' system, according to MLB Pipeline.