Catchers Hayes, Pena positioned for backup role
Kottaras designated for assignment to make room for Vargas
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' decision to drop catcher George Kottaras leaves Brett Hayes and Francisco Pena as the two prime candidates to back up All-Star regular Salvador Perez next season.
Kottaras, who appeared in 46 games last season, starting 29, was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for incoming pitcher Jason Vargas.
A left-handed hitter, Kottaras averaged just .180, but had five home runs and four doubles among his 18 hits. He also had a sharp eye, drawing 24 walks in 126 plate appearances for a .349 on-base percentage. Defense was supposedly his shortcoming.
"He did a lot better than I thought he would do," manager Ned Yost said. "He was always touted as an offensive guy with some pop that could come off the bench and hit a home run for you, but he received the ball far better than I thought I he would. He called great games, he spent a lot of time developing a game plan with our starters every time he caught. He just did a fantastic job. He was a very solid player for us."
But the numbers game caught up with him.
"Hayes did a good job [at Triple-A Omaha], and our scouts liked Pena," Yost said. "Sometimes these decisions get tough."