Remember the “all the shortstops!” meme from the era of an earlier GM? It appears the Mike Hazen equivalent is “all the catchers!” For the D-backs moved today to pick up catcher Chris Stewart from the Atlanta Braves. Robert Murray of The Athletic was the first to break the news, with Zach Buchanan of the same site adding that Atlanta would receive cash or a player to be named later in exchange for Stewart.
The 36-year-old right-hander is in his twelfth major-league season, having debuted with the White Sox in 2006. He has played for seven different organization over that time, reaching a high of 109 games with the Yankees in 2013. Overall, he has appeared in 454 games, with a line of .230/.297/.292 for a career OPS+ of 63, which is ten points better than the career figure posted by Jeff Mathis. Though per MLB Trade Rumors, Stewart “is valued for his work behind the dish and in managing a staff,” much in line with Mathis.
He made the Braves Opening Day roster, as their third catcher, but only appeared five times for them this year, going 3-for-14 and spending most of the rest of the season with their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. Stewart was called up on the 22nd as coverage at catcher, but never got into a game. He was designated for assignment earlier in the week, to make room for infielder Rio Ruiz. As such, he does not need to be placed on the 40-man roster with Arizona at this point. Stewart presumably will not be called up until rosters expand at the start of next month, though he would have to be added there in order to do so. The team does has room on the 40-man for him, if needed.
However, there is always the possibility that he could become the third catcher in place of John Ryan Murphy. Murphy did have a two-hit game against Seattle, but his playing time has been close to non-existent of late. He has made just eight starts since the first week of July, batting .075 (3-for-40) over that time. Or perhaps the plan would be to have a fourth catcher in order to allow further flexibility to Torey Lovullo in terms of playing match-ups over the final month of the season. It’s not exactly a needle mover, but there was presumably a purpose for the move. We’ll see how Hazen and Lovullo end up using Stewart.