Brantly claimed off waivers by White Sox
Catcher's departure from 40-man roster gives Marlins option of selecting in Rule 5 Draft
SAN DIEGO -- Rob Brantly, the Marlins' Opening Day catcher in 2013, was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on Monday. The 25-year-old spent this past season catching at Triple-A New Orleans, but the club also was experimenting with him at other positions.
The transaction sets the Marlins' 40-man roster at 39, and the club can now participate in the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
In anticipation of Brantly's departure, the Marlins signed catcher Jhonatan Solano, brother of Miami second baseman Donovan Solano, to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training.
"We really like [Solano] as a defensive catcher," Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "Once we signed him, it sort of freed up Brantly."
Solano, 29, appeared in 36 MLB games with the Nationals in 2012-13.
Although the Marlins aren't firmly committed to making a pick in the Rule 5 Draft, the club now has the option.
"We wanted the flexibility," Hill said. "I'm not sure we will be active in the Rule 5, but we wanted the opportunity. With Solano, we felt like we were covered."
A left-handed hitter with power potential, Brantly was acquired by the Marlins in July 2012 as part of the Anibal Sanchez /Omar Infante trade with the Tigers.
At the time, Brantly was regarded as the catcher of the future. But now, all three players Miami received in that deal are gone. Right-hander Jacob Turner was dealt to the Cubs during the 2014 season, and the day after Thanksgiving, lefty Brian Flynn was traded to the Royals as part of a trade for right-hander Aaron Crow.
Looking back at the 2012 trade with Detroit, Hill noted that Sanchez was a pending free agent who wasn't going to return. So the Marlins packaged the right-hander with Infante for three prospects.
"We tried to construct a deal to get as much as we could," Hill said.
The Marlins promoted Brantly to the big leagues late in the 2012 season, and he showed promise, batting .290 with three homers, eight RBIs and a .372 on-base percentage in 31 games.
When the Marlins broke up the 2012 team, the club went with a youthful core and Brantly was the Opening Day starter in '13. But he had his struggles at the plate and defensively. He batted .211 with one homer and 18 RBIs in 67 games.
Brantly made five errors in 556 innings and had nine passed balls. His catching ERA was 4.37 during his 65 games behind the plate in 2013, compared to a 3.85 ERA in '12.
Brantly was optioned to Triple-A during the 2013 season and spent all of '14 in the Minors.
The Marlins' catching situation is now set. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is signed through 2016, and Jeff Mathis had his club option exercised to return next year. J.T. Realmuto, part of Double-A Jacksonville's Southern League championship team, is now considered the club's catcher of the future. Realmuto, the Marlins' No. 7 prospect, and Austin Barnes (No. 15) are also on the 40-man roster.
At New Orleans, Brantly batted .255 with four homers and 37 RBIs in 101 games. Because of his struggles behind the plate, Brantly participated in the Marlins' instructional league in September and early October, getting some work in left field and at first base.