photo: Tyler Heineman (Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals have made their first signing of the off-season, adding veteran catcher Tyler Heineman on a minor league contract with an invitation to MLB spring training camp. The club made the announcement via social media on Friday evening.
We have signed minor league switch-hitting C Tyler Heineman to a minor league deal with an invite to major league camp. pic.twitter.com/8VipFxUSow
— Cardinals Player Development (@CardsPlayerDev) November 14, 2020
The 29-year old is a proven Triple-A depth catcher with a decent switch-hitting bat. Heineman also has a total of 62 big-league plate appearances with the 2019 Miami Marlins and 2020 San Francisco Giants, during which his OPS was just .590.
He left San Francisco as a minor league free agent after being outrighted off their 40-man roster less than two weeks ago. Miami also outrighted him following the 2019 season, so any further such actions would give him the right to declare immediate free agency.
With the Cardinals, Heineman could serve as the veteran backstop at Triple-A Memphis alongside prospect Julio Rodriguez or Ivan Herrera in 2021 or even be Andrew Knizner’s reserve with St. Louis if free agent Yadier Molina does not return to the Cardinals.
Without Molina in the fold, the organization could still bring in another veteran catcher by spring. Previous St. Louis reserve Matt Wieters and prior Memphis reserve Jose Godoy recently left the organization as free agents, leaving the position short of experience.
Heineman, Houston’s eighth round draft pick in 2012 from UCLA, first reached Triple-A in 2015 and has also played in the Brewers and Diamondbacks organizations. In 273 career Triple-A contests, his slash line is a respectable .287/.353/.430/.783 and he has thrown out 34.7% of attempted base stealers.
With his signing, Heineman immediately becomes Rule 5 eligible, though he is not liable to be taken.
Seven minutes before the team’s announcement, Heineman shared his excitement:
Excited to join the club I grew up rooting for! @Cardinals
Thank you @SFGiants and fans for an unforgettable 2020. I love you all and thank you for your continued support throughout this wild ride.
Go Cards! pic.twitter.com/jlpcTT69J0
— Tyler Heineman (@theineman13) November 14, 2020
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