We knew a roster move would be come today after Alex Colome, who was serving as an extra reliever in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen, was sent down after Monday’s game. Now, catcher Ali Solis has been called up to serve as the Rays third catcher. To accommodate him on the 40-man roster, Matt Moore has been transferred to the 60-day DL.
Ryan Hanigan has been struggling with a hamstring injury lately, and that injury was re-aggravated Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Therefore, the Rays elected to call-up Solis to ensure that Hanigan gets enough rest to avoid a DL stint. Jose Molina will still serve as the Rays primary catcher until Hanigan has gotten a few days rest, but with Solis around the Rays ensure that Hanigan can avoid having to come in to a game in an emergency situation. Having Hanigan on the DL would be a huge blow, as Molina has struggled mightily this year. The Rays hope that having Solis around ensures Hanigan is not on the shelf for more than a couple of days.
Solis, brought in on a minor league deal last offseason, has seen just 5 games in the MLB, all with the San Diego Padres in 2012. He does have 201 games of experience at the Double-A level on top of 70 at Triple-A. This year, he has put up just a .189/.213/.245 line with Triple-A Durham. Despite his obvious offensive shortcomings, he has made a living by being a strong defensive catcher. His career caught stealing rate sits at 34%, including 33% this year at Durham. Solis also fits the Rays bill with strong pitch-framing abilities. He isn’t going to be inspiring to say the least, but Solis is likely just going to be in the big leagues until Ben Zobrist makes his scheduled return from the DL on Friday, and he should be capable of being a late-innings replacement for Molina over that time.
What is controversial about this decision is that the light hitting Solis was called-up over top prospect Curt Casali, who has mashed to a .310/.463/.398 line between Double-A and Triple-A this year. He doesn’t play the defense that Solis does at this point, but he isn’t far off and is tenfold more talented with the bat. In the end though, it was not worth adding Casali to the 40-man roster and burning one of his three minor league options to send him back down. If the Rays needed a long-term replacement at catcher, then Casali is their likely pick. But Solis is only needed for the next few days, and in reality is only likely to catch one or two games at most. So it makes sense that the Rays wouldn’t want to burn an option on Casali if they don’t have to.
Ali Solis has been called-up as an emergency third catcher and has a chance to benefit this Rays team in that role. Thanks to a poor bat he isn’t going to do too much, but his defense is apt enough to catch a couple of games in the big leagues. Let’s just hope that Hanigan’s injury problems get by him quickly and all of these catching issues resolve themselves.