Ryan Hanigan Enters The Mix

The Phillies today signed Ryan Hanigan to a minor league contract. Stapled to that contract was a formal invitation to Spring Training, where the 36 year-old will compete with Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp, and Bryan Holaday for the coveted role of back-up catcher to Cameron Rupp. If Hanigan emerges victorious, he will earn a salary of $1.25 million, with incentives to earn an additional $375k.

Hanigan’s offensive skill set has always been excellent plate discipline and frequent contact, although the latter has deteriorated over the last three seasons. Unfortunate, since he does little damage when putting the ball in play. His career ISO and BABIP marks are .083 and .277, respectively. Outside of being able to discern balls and strikes, there is not much else he provides at the plate. The Steamer projection reflects this sentiment, pegging Hanigan for a 68 wRC+, or sub-Freddy Galvis territory.

Behind the plate, Hanigan has been a solid defensive catcher, and has rated as a fine pitch framer. But again, the numbers have been trending in the wrong direction. Whether this is a consequence of age-related decline, the numerous injuries he’s suffered in recent years, or small sample noise is the pertinent question. Regardless, if Hanigan is going to make the opening day roster, it will be on the back of his defensive aptitude.

Hanigan’s biggest impediment to making the team might be the current construction of the 40-man roster. The Phillies have very limited space, with Luis Garcia representing the sole expendable player remaining. If there is a plan to add another bullpen arm from outside the organization, Hanigan will be hard-pressed to force any of the remaining players out of a spot.

Most minor league signings are inconsequential, and are geared towards stashing major league ready depth in AAA. Break open in case of emergency. But with no defined back-up catcher, this signing ventures into the area of maybe worth keeping an eye on. Alfaro is likely to start the year at Lehigh Valley, and few people knew Bryan Holaday existed as a baseball player before he signed his minor league contract with the Phillies. Hanigan’s fate, then, resides in how the Phillies view Andrew Knapp come Spring Training.

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4 comments

  1. Steve

    January 26, 2017 09:00 AM

    Hector Mendoza was declared a FA. If he waits until March he will be exempt from IFA rules. Hes not elite right now but definately interesting. Id love to see a move like this.
    Totally unrelated and hypothetical, but the Rays just acquired DeLeon for Forsythe. They are different players with different skill sets, but lets say Cesar replicates his numbers from last year. Is he a better trade chip than Forsythe? Is DeLeon a baseline on the type of return we could/should expect? Are we even willing to trade him if he can put up those numbers consistantly?

    • Jerry Spradlin

      January 26, 2017 09:38 AM

      If, and it’s a big if, Cesar puts up last year’s numbers consistently I’d say yes. Comparable WAR and OPS+. Cesar has more speed, Forsythe more power. DeLeon was Dodgers #2 prospect, a great get if his shoulder stays healthy.

      • Romus

        January 26, 2017 10:40 AM

        JS:
        I think Walker Beuhler may have more upside than Deleon from the LAD system, but the Rays wanted DeLeon I assume….who actually turns 25 in August and like you said, his shoulder could be an issue with all the innings he has pitched since he was drafted in 2013 by the Dodgers and the years prior in college.
        Cesar , with the same metrics as the 2nd half last season, value has to be more with his age and financial controls .also included.

      • Steve

        January 26, 2017 02:44 PM

        If Cesar reproduces his 2nd half number over the course of a full season you are talking about an All-Star calibur season and everyone is going to call him the Phillies 2b of the future. I dont think thats realistic. I think his overall numbers for 2016 (somewhere between his bad 1st half and great second half) are more accurate. Thats still a valuble 2b. Like you said, his youth and affordability are two major pluses.

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