The Guardians have announced the signing of free agent catcher Meibrys Viloria to a non-roster Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
Originally signed in 2013 by the Royals, Viloria progressed through Kansas City’s minor league system before jumping from Class-A Advanced to the majors in late 2018 shortly after his 21st birthday with Drew Butera traded and Salvador Perez nursing an injury. He would hit .259/.286/.333 in 29 plate appearances before returning to the minors at the conclusion of the season.
After beginning the 2019 season in Double-A, Viloria returned to the majors in a permanent role, finishing the year with a weak .211/.259/.286 line in 148 plate appearances. He bounced between the major league team and alternate training site during the 2020 season before being designated for assignment (DFA’d) in early 2021 and being outrighted to Triple-A. There he would hit .242/.368/.338, but would not make another appearance with the Royals and was granted free agency after the season.
Viloria joined the Rangers on a minor league deal ahead of the 2022 season. He spent most of the season in Triple-A, hitting .280/.422/.440 while putting up a much weaker .159/.280/.270 at the major league level. Viloria was DFA’d in early November, claimed by the Giants five days later, and DFA’d for the second time in the span of two weeks before electing free agency.
Both of Cleveland’s 2022 catching core, Austin Hedges and Luke Maile, entered free agency after the 2022 season, with Maile recently inking a deal with the Reds. Bo Naylor, the Guardians’ No.5 prospect ranked by MLB.com, is currently penciled in as the starting backstop, but the team has been connected to Sean Murphy and will presumedly fortify the position during the offseason.
With a career .201/.270/.283 line over parts of four seasons at the major league level, Viloria will likely compete for a backup role with the Guardians. However, for a team that values defense, Viloria has thrown out a strong 36% of runners.
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