- 2018 rating: 2.52
- 2017 rating: N/A
- 2018 salary: league minimum
- 2018 performance: 3 games, 1 PA, .000/.000/.000 = .000 OPS
- 2019 status: free agent
As Wes discussed last week, Chris Stewart is likely among the most irrelevant of all Arizona Diamondbacks. Except in the unlikely event he is re-signed and appears in the major leagues again, he will become the third position player in franchise history with a career total of one at-bat, joining Ken Huckaby and Juan Sosa, both of whom were part of the 2001 World Series winning roster. Though at least Stewart did put the ball in play, unlike the other pair, who both struck out. Chris flew out to left field, with one out in the ninth inning of a 13-2 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field on Sep. 10. He also was a defensive replacement in the 8th inning on Sep 15 + 25., but didn’t get to the plate on either occasion.
He was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on August 30th in exchange for cash considerations. I can only hope, given the lack of value Stewart provided, that Mike Hazem simply emptied the spare change off his bedside table to fund this deal. Stewart was added to the team when rosters expanded at the beginning of September, becoming our fourth catcher, but as the paragraph above shows, was hardly needed. Indeed, you can argue the case that even three catchers was a luxury the offensively-challenged D-backs couldn’t afford in 2018. The argument is that it allows you to pinch-hit for a catcher, replace them, and still have coverage in event of injury. But, realistically, how often does that happen?
This season, ten teams used three different catchers in a game. However, almost all of those were after rosters expanded in September, including the sole time the D-backs did so, coincidentally against Stewart’s former team on Sep 6. There were only two occasions in the major-leagues prior to September, when a team used three catchers. The first was the Braves on Opening Day - and involved Stewart! Tyler Flowers had to leave the game with an oblique issue in the middle of the second, and was replaced by Kurt Suzuki. In the 8th, they then pinch-ran for Suzuki, Chris Stewart taking over behind the plate for the ninth, so this latter change was purely a tactical decision, not one forced by injury.
The other case was on June 28, when the Rockies faced the Giants in San Francisco. Tony Wolters started for Colorado, was pinch-hit for by Chris Iannetta in the seventh. Again, the catcher was pinch-run for, in this case in the ninth inning. While you can argue this did provide a tactical advantage, it did not make any real difference, as D.J. LeMahieu homered, and even Iannetta would have scored. [The same goes for the Braves’ game, where a single scored the pinch-runner from third] So having a third catcher is something which only comes into play a couple of times a year, and based on this season, not typically for the reason most-often claimed.
The above is largely in the way of shameless padding this piece, because what can you really say about a man who played two innings in the field and had a single plate appearance for the D-backs? Hell, I couldn’t even find a picture of him in an Arizona uniform, so had to make do with one of him IN Arizona, as a member of the Pirates. His arrival did fit the mold of Hazen acquisitions, Stewart having a reputation as a good defensive catcher [perhaps highlighted by this double-play he started as a Yankee in 2013]. But it felt almost like a throwback to the “#AllTheShortstops” era of previous Arizona GMs, just with regard to a different position.
It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a chance next season with regard to this. We do have Jeff Mathis becoming a free-agent, so I suppose it’s possible that Stewart could become the third catcher on the roster for 2019, behind Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy. Given how little use the third catcher was this year, I think I’d rather give that roster spot to someone who can hit off the bench.