Eric Haase’s opportunity to break into the big leagues for good could come in Cleveland, but it won’t come as a member of the Indians.
The Indians announced on Wednesday that Haase had been traded to their woeful divisional foes, the Detroit Tigers, for cash considerations.
The cost-conscious Indians, which have continued to purge salary this offseason, officially said goodbye to the club’s former third string catcher. The 27-year-old Haase, who had earned a couple of cups of coffee with Cleveland over the last two seasons in limited late season work, was exchanged for cash considerations Wednesday as the team finalized his previous designation for assignment.
With nine minor league seasons under his belt for the Indians organization and two years on the team’s 40-man roster, Haase’s impact was made not for the parent club, but for its top farm affiliate in Columbus. Haase was relieved of his 40-man roster spot with Cleveland on December 29 when the Indians added newly signed infielder Cesar Hernandez to the roster. The Indians have Gold Glove winner Roberto Perez behind the plate as the primary catcher and cut loose Kevin Plawecki at the beginning of December after acquiring switch-hitting backstop Sandy Leon from Boston (Plawecki signed with the Red Sox last week).
Haase, a seventh round selection by the Indians out of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, will get a chance to pursue his Major League dreams for a rebuilding Tigers club less than 30 minutes from his former high school stomping grounds. One of the minor league posterchildren of the launch angle revolution, Haase saw a healthy power jump in 2016, when he hit 12 homers in 63 games for Double-A Akron. He hit 27 in 2017 for Akron and Triple-A Columbus, 20 in 2018 during an International League All-Star season, and a career-best 28 last year in his second full season and third year overall working at the top farm level for the Indians. He was an IL All-Star for the second straight season and was named the Triple-A All-Star Game Top Star.
In 19 games over the past two seasons with Cleveland, Haase was 3-for-32 (.094) with a homer and four RBI. While his defensive work has been considered adequate at times and included a 41.7% mark throwing out base stealers a season ago, his performance at the plate may have hindered his ability to crack through the Tribe’s catching mix. While he has showcased better power than most in the team’s farm system, he is also prone to the strikeout and is not much for drawing walks.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Haase, the Tigers designated right-handed pitcher Dario Agrazal for assignment, less than two months after acquiring him from Pittsburgh. Haase has one option year remaining, but he could see time for the Tigers at some point in 2020, as Detroit is expected to continue to audition pieces for its future while working through the team’s rebuilding phase. The club was already bringing back Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers, who have limited experience at the MLB level (Greiner debuted in 2018 and Rogers last season). This offseason, the Tigers also signed free agent catcher Austin Romine to a one-year deal to ease the load behind the plate. The 31-year-old veteran, who had spent his nine-year career in pinstripes with the New York Yankees, is the younger brother of former Tigers utility man Andrew Romine.
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