The Phillies are reportedly shopping catcher Cameron Rupp to other teams. If they can’t, he might be released from the team.
One of the top storylines in Phillies spring training this year has been the battle for the backup catcher position behind Jorge Alfaro. Andrew Knapp and Cameron Rupp are jockeying for the position. Neither has really stood out offensively this spring, but Knapp has shown significant advances in his defensive abilities.
It appears the club would prefer Knapp as their backup. Matt Gelb of the Athletic has reported that Rupp could be on his way out:
"One player whose 40-man roster spot appears to be in peril is Cameron Rupp. Two sources said the Phillies have made the 29-year-old catcher available to other teams. If they cannot find a match, the Phillies could release Rupp and pay him one-fourth of his non-guaranteed $2.05 million deal."
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There were earlier indications that Knapp was the favorite, but this report by Gelb proves what many of us have thought for some time: Philadelphia prefer Knapp’s on-base ability and defensive prowess over Rupp’s power potential.
In 88 games last year, Rupp was worth 0.8 fWAR. He posted a .217/.299/.417 line with 14 home runs and 34 runs batted in.
He struck out in 34.4 percent of his plate appearances and walked in 10.3 percent. Rupp was worth -10 defensive runs saved.
Meanwhile, Knapp had a .257/.368/.368 line with 0.7 fWAR in 56 games. He was worth -8 defensive runs saved, but as mentioned earlier, his defense has taken a major step forward this spring. He missed time late in the year due to a bruised wrist after being hit by a pitch.
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The fact that Gelb said Rupp could be released is interesting. He still has a minor-league option and is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. He theoretically could still be sent down to Triple-A and be called up if Knapp or Alfaro sustains an injury.
However, Philadelphia needs every spot on the 40-man roster they can get. They have a lot of pitching prospects that need protection. There is a strong chance they use a spot to add Jesmuel Valentin to the bench this year. Scott Kingery will also eventually need a spot as he expected to be called up as early as April 13. The team may decide to roll with the catchers they have in the minors (Logan Moore, Matt McBride, and Nick Rickles) and add one to the 40-man roster if they need to.
There may be a team out there that wants Rupp as their backup. However, if they know Philadelphia is going to release him anyway, they might not offer much in return.