The Diamondbacks officially announced this afternoon that they have acquired catcher Juan Graterol in a waiver claim from the Cincinnati Reds. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, the team said that outfielder Peter O’Brien has been designated for assignment.
O’Brien arrived in Arizona at the trade deadline in 2014, in exchange for Martin Prado. There was never any doubt about his power: the problem was mostly his ability to stick at his chosen position of catcher. Less than a year later, early in the 2015 campaign, he began playing the outfield for the Reno Aces. He returned behind the plate in May, but then it was announced at the beginning of June that he’d become a full-time outfielder. He’s been there ever since.
His minor-league power has been unquestioned. In less than two thousand at-bats there, he has hit 116 home-runs. That peaked in 2014, when he hit 34 in just 399 at-bats. While he hit some memorable bombs at the major-league level too - including this 471-foot shot, for his first homer with the Diamondbacks, the second longest by any Arizona hitter in 2015 - his was a one-dimensional game. Over 36 games for the D-backs this year and last, O’Brien hit .176 with 32 strikeouts in just 79 plate-appearances (albeit with six home-runs). The new front-office clearly looked at O’Brien and decided he didn’t offer enough, in the direction they wanted to go. I imagine they also tried shopping him around first, before DFAing him, and the apparent lack of interest is likely also telling.
Graterol was signed by the Royals as a teenager, back in 2006, but was granted free agency after the 2014 season. He spent a year with the Yankees, also without making the majors, but finally reached it this season, after signing on in Anaheim. He got little more than a cup of coffee in September, receiving 15 PAs and going 4-for-14. The Reds selected him off waivers from the Angels on Nov 28 - so, easy come, easy go! The 27-year-old is a career .270 hitter over his 11 years in the minors, but has only thirteen home-runs in his 527 games there. However, his defensive skills appear decent, throwing out 38% of attempted base-stealers there. He’ll likely be in the mix for a backup spot with Arizona, though whether he’ll end up behind Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann, or somebody else, is yet to be established.