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2023 Diamondbacks Reviews: #31 Jose Herrera

Back-up catcher with nothing to be excited about.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Overview

  • Rating: 4.64
  • 2023 stats: 43 G, 101 AB, .208/.296/.257, 54 OPS+
  • Date of birth: February 24, 1997
  • 2023 earnings: $482,856 (via Spotrac)
  • 2024 status: On 40-man roster, Pre-Arb, 1 option remaining.

Introduction

Like we mentioned in last year’s review, Jose Herrera was one of the bigger international signings the Diamondbacks have made the past 10 years. Being part of that 2013 international signing class, Herrera has been a Diamondback for the past decade, the longest tenure in the organisation at the moment.

Herrera was a slow riser, never spectacular, and made the 40-man roster in November 2021. In 2022 he was pretty much Bumgarner’s personal catcher but wasn’t able to leave much impression with a .189/.250/.207 batting line and eventually lost his spot on the active roster.

With Mike Hazen going vocal about looking for an upgrade over Carson Kelly, we expressed doubt over Herrera’s spot on the active roster short term and the 40-man roster long term.

2023 review

As expected, Hazen did find his upgrade over Carson Kelly when the Diamondbacks announced the acquisition of Gabriel Moreno. Moreno and Kelly were supposed to split duties and as such Herrera was the odd man out.

However, things turned out differently.

Carson Kelly got hit by a pitch in Spring Training and fractured his right arm. It would not only propel Gabriel Moreno to future stardom on our roster, but also gave way to Jose Herrera to become the back-up catcher.

Herrera stayed with the team on the active roster until Carson Kelly returned from the IL, forcing the Diamondbacks to option Herrera to Reno. Herrera was called back up again when Gabriel Moreno hit the IL at the end of July and stayed on the roster when Moreno returned and the D-Backs designated Kelly for assignment. That changed when Herrera was optioned again to Reno in September and the Diamondbacks decided to add waiver claim Seby Zavala to the active roster. Herrera would eventually return onto the 26-man roster as the back-up catcher since Zavala was acquired after the trade deadline and thus was ineligible to play the post-season.

Although it might not seem that way, Herrera actually improved offensively in 2023. Until his demotion to Reno his bat was “sustainable” for a back-up catcher. Never a power-hitter, the Venezuelan went by with a .255 batting average and .344 on base percentage.

Although bad luck was in play, after he returned to the active roster in July and until his demotion in September, Herrera hit for .152 with a .235 on base percentage. It surely led to the decision of the club of adding Seby Zavala to the active roster.

On the defensive side, Herrera hasn’t been able to leave much of an impression either. Although he was a strong catcher at the lower minor league levels, he hasn’t been able to translate the glove work to the highest level (FanGraphs even rates him negatively), with a few exceptions here and there like the big throw he highlighted in the game against the Tigers, which was nominated on here as one of the defensive plays of the year.

2024 outlook

Herrera has still one option remaining, so that favours him, but it looks increasingly more that Herrera is one in dozen and that the option is one of the reasons he is still on the 40-man roster.

Herrera’s position is also safer, because of the lack of catching talent at the highest minor league level, with Adrian del Castillo just getting a taste of that and JJ D’Orazio and Cristian Cerdá playing at lower levels.

Zavala bumped Herrera off the active roster at the end of 2023, but has since been traded to the Mariners. That means one competitor less for Herrera.

Gabriel Moreno is the now and the future of this team, so the team will probably not look for a substantial upgrade at the catcher position either, with other parts of the roster in much more need of improvements. That also favours Herrera. Surely the team will have to look for some MLB catching depth, because Moreno has had his injuries in 2023 and with Carson Kelly gone, there is not much experience present at the roster. But there isn’t much to love on the free agency market that doesn’t have a bigger price tag.

So, all in all, Jose Herrera will probably still be with us in 2024.


Poll

Are you OK with Jose Herrera being the main back-up?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Yes, we need to worry about other positions.
    (45 votes)
  • 32%
    No, we have to be better than that.
    (22 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now