The Phillies have released catcher Cameron Rupp, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com first reported on Monday afternoon. Rupp, 29, was designated for assignment over the weekend as the Phillies decided to move forward with highly-regarded prospect Jorge Alfaro and second-year backstop Andrew Knapp as their catching tandem.
Rupp was mostly victimized by the emergence of Alfaro and the savings that the Phillies were able to garner by releasing him. He’s been a solid performer over each of his three full major-league seasons, most notably on the defensive side, where he’s displayed strong blocking skills and thrown out runners on a consistent basis. He’s hit a combined 30 homers over the past two seasons and has a decent .234/.298/.407 career slash line, though he struggled to make consistent contact in 2017, hitting .217/.299/.417 over 331 plate appearances. He didn’t exactly help his cause over 41 Grapefruit League plate appearances this spring, either, posting a .189/.268/.297 line with one homer.
By releasing Rupp, who avoided arbitration with a $2.05 million contract over the winter, the Phillies only have to pay Rupp 45 days of termination pay -- just over $500,000. Payroll concerns wouldn’t seem to be the biggest concern for a Phillies team that is projected to spend less than $100 million this year, but when it comes to a backup catcher who probably won’t see much action behind Alfaro, it’s understandable to see why they went with the cheaper option in Knapp.
The Cardinals, who are set to open the season with non-roster invitee Francisco Pena as their backup, and the Mariners, whose current backup is 28-year-old Mike Marjama — a veteran of just five major-league games — could present potential fits for Rupp. Another club that could use a backup catcher is Rupp’s hometown team, the Rangers, who are set to start the year with former Astro Juan Centeno as their backup. It’s also worth noting that the Phillies could bring Rupp back on a more team-friendly minor-league contract, but since he still possesses two minor-league options, it seems likely that he should be able to get a 40-man roster spot elsewhere, even if a club isn’t willing to guarantee him a major-league spot to open the season.