The Orioles backup catcher battle has seemingly been narrowed down to Cam Gallagher and Mark Kolozsvary.
With the World Series having just concluded and free agency still a few days from opening, there’s not a lot of Orioles news to talk about right now. However, there are still some questions surrounding the Baltimore roster as the offseason begins.
Currently, there are three catchers on the Orioles 40-man roster. They are Adley Rutschman, Cam Gallagher, and Mark Kolozsvary. With Rutschman the clear-cut starter, I decided to compare both Gallagher and Kolozsvary to each other, as they are seemingly the top two choices for the backup job behind Rutschman entering 2023.
First, it’s important to find out how we got here. It was Rutschman, Gallagher, and Robinson Chirinos on the 40-man roster when the regular season ended. Shortly after, Anthony Bemboom was added to the 40-man, and Koloszvary and Aramis Garcia were claimed from the Reds a little over a week later. Since then, Bemboom and Garcia were DFA’d, with Bemboom accepting an outright assignment to Norfolk and Garcia opting for free agency. Chirinos became a free agent on Sunday, so we’re left with Gallagher and Kolozsvary behind Rutschman.
We’ll start off on the hitting side of things. Kolozsvary made his MLB debut last season, while Gallagher has played in parts of 6 seasons. Kolozsvary has a career .200 batting average, .238 on base percentage, and .688 OPS, with one home run and three RBI’s in a 10 game sample size. Gallagher has a .240 average with a .302 on base percentage and .656 OPS, adding seven home runs and 39 RBI’s to go with 27 doubles and 34 walks in 171 games. Gallagher has a higher max exit velocity as well, ranking in the 64th percentile in 2022, while Kolozsvary was in the 15th percentile.
Let’s move on to the defensive side of things. Gallagher was behind the dish for 124 innings last season for the Royals, and was responsible for 108 putouts and contributed six assists. He committed just one error while throwing out two attempted base stealers, and ended the year with -2 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Kolozsvary was behind the plate for 60 innings with the Reds last season and had an even 0 DRS rating. Kolozsvary was error free, although he did have two passed balls to his name. He didn’t record an assist but registered 53 putouts and threw out one potential base stealer.
Given all these stats and numbers, I would give the edge to the backup catcher job to Gallagher. In addition to having more major league experience and track record than his seemingly main competitor Kolozsvary, Gallagher has no minor league options remaining, while Kolozsvary has two years of options remaining. While that doesn’t rule out Kolozsvary from beating out Gallagher, it is a key part of the discussion and will probably lean the Orioles toward Gallagher, but they haven’t hesitated to DFA people before, so this is something to keep an eye on when Spring Training rolls around.