Cardinals claim Kottaras off waivers; activate Kelly

Cardinals claim Kottaras off waivers; activate Kelly

MILWAUKEE -- Claiming veteran catcher George Kottaras off waivers from Cleveland was the best option available in the wake of Yadier Molina's injury, general manager John Mozeliak said prior to Friday night's game at Miller Park.

"Obviously, the ability to do something quick was something that was definitely driving this," Mozeliak said. "Also, the fact that he's a left-handed hitter was helpful. For us, we were trying to explore what our options might be and what they looked like. Clearly there were a couple of players that were [designated for assignment] the same day that injury happened to Yadi. I think we were just fortuitous in the sense of the timing. But, now it gives us a little bit of a timeout to keep exploring other things should we need to."

Most Wins Above Replacement for NL position players since 2012
Player Position Team WAR
Andrew McCutchen OF Pirates 18.9
Paul Goldschmidt 1B D-backs 15.0
Buster Posey C Giants 14.7
Yadier Molina C Cardinals 14.6
David Wright 3B Mets 14.6

The left-handed hitting Kottaras, 31, has a .216 career average in 305 games with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs. Prior to being designated for assignment on Monday, he was hitting .286 with three home runs in 10 games with the Indians.

He also has been effective as a pinch-hitter with 10 hits in 46 at-bats, including 6-for-22 with the Brewers in 2012.

"George, he had a really nice season with us," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's a guy you have to be worried about offensively because he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He played great for us when we had him here that year. No doubt, a big hit with losing who I consider a guy that's an MVP-type player. [The Cardinals] have a good backup, because when we see [Tony] Cruz, he usually gets a bunt of hits off us, and he's a good defensive player, also. But losing Yadi is obviously pretty tough."

The immediate plan is to give Cruz the bulk of the catching duties, Mozeliak said. The Cardinals also have Audrey Perez, who was called up Thursday from Triple-A Memphis.

"My hope is we play Cruz. I've always been an advocate to find out what we have back there. So, I do think this is a good opportunity to get him those at-bats, to challenge him with that. But, I do think acquiring George gives us a little protection should we need it."

Kottaras is expected to join the team on Thursday, which will require a move to make room for him on the roster.

In addition to claiming Kottaras, the Cardinals actived Joe Kelly from the DL for Friday's start, optioned Tyler Lyons to Triple-A Memphis and transferred pitcher Jaime Garcia to the 60-day DL.

Jim Hoehm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.