The Indians have signed veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training, as USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reported Monday morning. Hanigan will earn $1.25 million if he makes Cleveland’s major-league roster.
Hanigan, 37, had to accept a minor-league deal for the first time in his 11-year major-league career last spring, attending Phillies spring training as a non-roster invitee. While he ultimately didn’t make their Opening Day roster, he was released and ended up signing with the Colorado Rockies, with whom he posted a .267/.324/.347 slash line as part of a catching tag team that also included Jonathan Lucroy, Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy, and Dustin Garneau at various points. Hanigan spent more time in Triple-A than he had since 2008, getting optioned to Albuquerque and spending about two weeks there in June.
Hanigan will clearly rank no higher than third — and he very well may be fourth — on the Indians’ catching depth chart, as they’ll return two legitimate big-league backstops in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez and also have baseball’s top catching prospect (as ranked by MLB Pipeline), Francisco Mejia, who made his major-league debut last September and may be ready to break into the big leagues full-time at some point later this year.
Despite the fact that he’ll be facing an uphill battle to make the roster, Hanigan will provide quality depth behind the plate. That depth will be especially valuable for Cleveland seeing as Gomes has spent time on the disabled list in three of the past four seasons.