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.