D-backs option Caleb Joseph to Triple-A, down to 3 catchers
The Arizona Diamondbacks optioned catcher Caleb Joseph to Triple-A Reno on Friday, cutting their group of catchers left in camp to three.
The team also reassigned infielder Juniel Querecuto and outfielder Matt Szczur to minor league camp.
Alex Avila, Carson Kelly and John Ryan Murphy remain on the D-backs’ active roster at catcher. But it remains unclear if Arizona will carry three catchers into the 2019 season as it has in the past two years with GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo leading the team.
Joseph, 32, is only one of those catchers with minor league options remaining, and retaining him in the organization indicates that the Diamondbacks could carry two catchers on the 25-man roster that must be set before they open the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.
If injuries hit at catcher, Joseph will be an asset with 402 games of MLB experience under his belt.
Kelly, 24, appears to be a favorite of the organization after it acquired him from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade this offseason. Playing behind nine-time All-Star Yadier Molina in his three MLB seasons, Kelly has only appeared in 63 games but was considered one of the top prospects in the Cardinals organization over past seasons.
Kelly and Avila also bring more offensive potential to the position, though Avila struggled at the plate by batting .165 in 2018, his first year with Arizona.
Murphy, 27, could be the odd man. He played in 87 games a year ago, hitting .202 with nine home runs, nine doubles and 24 RBI with 71 strikeouts.
Whether Arizona retains three catchers comes down to which position players it wants to retain. Murphy, outfielder Socrates Brito and infielder Christian Walker are among those without minor league options who are on the bubble.
The D-backs’ active roster sits at 31 players six days out from Opening Day.