Phillies Sign Christian Bethancourt to Minor-League Deal

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Christian Bethancourt #12 of the San Diego Padres in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 13, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Padres 3-2 after eleven innings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Christian Bethancourt #12 of the San Diego Padres in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 13, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Padres 3-2 after eleven innings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Phillies have added catching depth, signing five-year veteran Christian Bethancourt to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

It appears Andrew Knapp will have some competition in spring training for the Philadelphia Phillies backup catcher position after all.

On Friday, the team inked five-year veteran Christian Bethancourt to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league camp, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Bethancourt, 28, made his big-league debut on September 29, 2013, against the Phillies while with the division rival Braves: a pinch-hit appearance in which he struck out. That would be his only game that season, before playing 160 games over the next four seasons with the Braves (2014-15) and San Diego Padres (2016-17).

While the Panama, native is a career .222/.252/.316 hitter with 20 doubles, eight home runs, 46 RBI, 18 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 161 games and 489 plate appearances, he is more so notable for having experience playing not only the catcher position, but also left field and right field, as well as second base.

Bethancourt has not appeared in the majors since 2017; with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2018, he was named an All-Star and slashed .297/.328/.506 with 22 doubles, 20 home runs and 71 RBI over 104 games. This past season, he hit .246 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 53 games in Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) action; he was released mid-season.

Another position Bethancourt  has been utilized in is pitcher; he has tossed a combined six games for the Padres in 2016 and 2017; also, at the Triple-A level in 2017, he logged 34 appearances and 41 2/3 innings on the mound, albeit struggling with an 8.21 ERA and 1.992 WHIP.

Just five years ago, Bethancourt was considered among the Braves’ top prospects, having been ranked by Baseball America as the 69th best prospect overall entering the 2014 season, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman.

Bethancourt becomes the fifth minor-league signee invited to Phillies major-league spring training, joining Phil Gosselin, Josh Harrison, Mikie Mahtook, Matt Szczur.