Giants trade for Kratz to back up Posey
Erik Kratz was packed to leave the Brewers' Spring Training camp and fly back home to Virginia on Sunday morning. Change of plans. He wound up flying to the Bay Area, joining the San Francisco Giants midway through their 5-0 loss to the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum.
Kratz, a postseason hero for Milwaukee last year with a .292 average in the National League Division Series and Championship Series, was told coming into the spring that he wouldn’t make the Brewers’ roster. No deal was forthcoming until the last second, when the Giants picked him up as a backup to Buster Posey.
“I learned a long time ago you have to play every day like it’s your last game,” he said after spending some time in the bullpen mid-game. “I’ve been playing like it’s my last game for 12 years; now it’ll be 13. I was going to fly home to Virginia, and now this. It’s a great opportunity.”
San Francisco sent Minor League infielder C.J. Hinojosa to the Brewers in the deal. It made room for Kratz on the 40-man roster by designating right-handed pitcher José López for assignment.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he’ll get as much work for the 38-year-old Kratz as possible in the final two games of the spring and have him catch as many of the Giants’ pitchers as possible. Unlike the Brewers, the Giants are planning to have Kratz on the roster, although the details have yet to be worked out.
The club hasn’t settled on whether to carry two or three catchers, a list that would include Aramis Garcia in addition to Posey and Kratz. The manager also said the Giants haven't decided whether to carry 12 pitchers or 13. If Kratz and Garcia both make it, a 12-man pitching staff becomes much more likely.
“Farhan [Zaidi, president of baseball operations] and I will sit down tomorrow and talk about what we want to do,” Bochy said. “I don’t know Kratz, but he’s an experienced guy, and I’ve heard good things about him. Garcia has done a nice job this spring.”
As for Kratz, he will take what comes. He has been with seven other teams. Jumping in and catching a pitching staff he doesn’t know is what he does.
“It’s not up to them to adjust,” he said in reference to the Giants’ pitchers. “It’s up to me to adjust to what they want to do. It’s not on them; they have a bigger responsibility. It’s my responsibility to get on the same page as them.”
He does have an ace in the hole. Kratz and Posey spent some time together a few years ago as part of a Christian group known as Pro Athletes Outreach. They got to know each other at a conference in Georgia.
“Buster knows these guys, knows what their strengths are,” Kratz said. “He’ll be someone I’ll be leaning on a lot. It’s a nice-looking bullpen here, and there are five above-average starting pitchers here. It’s a great asset to have.”