The 20-day minor-league rehabilitation assignment for Royals reserve catcher Erik Kratz will end on Tuesday, which means his team must at last choose between Kratz or Drew Butera as the primary backup for Salvador Perez.
The odds appear to favor Butera, who the organization views as a more accomplished defender than Kratz, who tore the plantar fascia in his left foot in May. The Royals acquired Butera from the Angels shortly after Kratz landed on the 15-day disabled list.
Since May 21, Kratz has been playing for Class AAA Omaha. When his assignment ends, the organization has three choices. They can recall him. They can trade him to another club. Or they could designate him for assignment and see if he clears waivers.
Manager Ned Yost indicated he had not yet discussed the situation with general manager Dayton Moore. From a logical perspective, if the club wanted Kratz on the big-league roster, they could have recalled him days ago. Kratz hit four home runs and drove in 12 runs during his first 13 games for the Storm Chasers.
But Butera has impressed Royals officials with his game-calling and his throwing ability. He will never win a batting title. But the Royals do not seek that sort of production from Perez’s backup — a position that does not exactly require regular at-bats. Yost has never denied that when it comes to backup catchers, he prefers defensive stability to offensive potential.
“Butera does a great job of calling the game, blocking balls in the dirt,” Yost said. “Kratz does a good job with the same thing. If I was going to handicap both of them, Butera is a better defensive player. And Kratz has got more power, and has a chance to win ballgames with his bat.
“But they both fit in. We just have to make a decision on who we’re going with.”