The veteran backstop reached an important career milestone with the Diamondbacks.
- Rating: 2.14
- Age: 34
- 2021 Stats: 34 PA, .194/.265/.258 = .523 OPS, 43 OPS+, -0.1 bWAR/-0.2 fWAR
- 2021 Earnings: $177,886 (per Spotrac)
- 2022 Status: free agent
Bryan Holaday was a 4-year catcher at Texas Christian University, where he earned the Johnny Bench Award as the NCAA Division 1’s top catcher after hitting 17 home runs with a then school-record 99 hits. That performance turned him into a 6th round selection in the 2010 draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Despite the bat never translating to the type of numbers you’d expect to see from an age-advanced catcher in the minor, with OPS numbers never topping .700, Bryan rose through the minors quickly, receiving promotions each season and ultimately reached the majors in 2012 as Alex Avila hit the injured list. On the same day of his debut, he achieved his first MLB hit, a single against Cleveland pitcher Jeanmar Gomez on June 6th, 2012.
He spent the next couple of years fighting for the backup job in Detroit with guys like James McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia before being acquired by the Texas Rangers. He shared the starting position at catcher until they acquired Jonathan Lucroy when he was designated for assignment and claimed by the Red Sox to finish the season. He jumped around the fringes of the MLB roster the next couple of years before landing in Miami and seeing his most extensive time in 2018-2019. Over those two seasons, he totaled 295 PAs with an OPS of .632. The Orioles brought him on in 2020, but like most years, he saw little time, just 20 games, and was not re-signed after the season.
The Diamondbacks signed Bryan to a minor-league deal early in January to serve as depth behind Carson Kelly and Stephen Vogt. He was invited to Spring Training, released after not making the major league roster, then signed to a minor league deal immediately afterward. With the season all but lost and the team dealing players with any sort of value, Bryan Holaday was selected to the 40-man roster to replace Tim Locastro and made the big league squad after Gallen hit the DL for his hamstring injury.
Holaday appeared in 13 games for the team, but struggled, even by catcher standards. Despite hitting 7 homers in Reno, that power failed to translate to the MLB level. He finished the year 6/31 with 2 doubles and 1 RBI. Holaday was released in late August as the team went young with Daulton Varsho stealing the show down the stretch.
His appearance for the team in 2021 sealed his availability for Hall of Fame contention, but more importantly, he now is eligible for the all valuable MLB pension. [Edit: Bryan only has 6 of the required 10 years of service time required for full pension, Thanks to John for the correction!]. And while he may hang around the fringes of MLB rosters in 2022, that won’t be with the D-backs as they will almost assuredly keep the roster spots open for young players. Never say never, the team could run into injury issues and need veteran depth and choose a known option rather than an unknown one.