Why the KC Royals could reunite with this old friend

(Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images) /

Cam Gallagher spent the better part of the last six years living the major league life with the KC Royals. He debuted with the club in 2017, two seasons too late to enjoy the glory of the club’s second World Series title, but soon enough to fill a key role on the roster.

He practiced his craft—big league backup catcher—well. So well, in fact, that he stuck and the Royals trusted him with their pitchers until the business of baseball took him away to San Diego at July’s trade deadline. Kansas City swapped him to the Padres for outfielder Brent Rooker.

Unfortunately for Gallagher, he hasn’t seen the major leagues since.

San Diego posed a bright change of scenery for Gallagher because the Padres were on track for the playoff berth they eventually captured, but didn’t need him immediately and assigned him to Triple-A El Paso, where he played four weeks before being DFA’d. The Orioles claimed him but, like the Padres, sent him down. And now, per Baltimore Sun Orioles writer Nathan Ruiz, he’s on the market:

Could Gallagher’s next stop be a familiar one?

The KC Royals should at least think about bringing Cam Gallagher back.

Kansas City’s catching situation is, for now, unique. The club DFA’d Sebastian Rivero late last week, leaving MJ Melendez as the only other backstop on the present roster to back up Salvador Perez, one of the best catchers in the game. And while Melendez’s skills behind the plate require refinement, he’s become an indispensable part of the young club’s budding offense and needs an everyday place to play.

So it is that most signs point to Melendez, who hit 18 home runs with 62 RBIs in his rookie campaign, as KC’s starting left fielder next year. But without another catcher on the roster, an in-game injury to Perez means moving Melendez behind the plate and replacing him in left with a what could be a weaker bat. Worse yet is a Perez injury forcing Melendez to catch when he’s the DH, in which case the Royals’ pitcher must bat for the rest of the game.

Bringing Gallagher back to give the Royals three catchers could help eliminate those scenarios. Although he doesn’t swing a great bat (.240 career average with seven homers), he’s certainly adequate defensively—his nine errors in 166 big league games translate to a .991 fielding percentage and, although it could be better, his 21% caught stealing percentage will do for a backstop who doesn’t play every day. And Kansas City’s pitchers have always seemed comfortable with Gallagher’s game-calling acumen.

Gallagher also won’t be expensive. He made $855,000 in 2022 and won’t command much more than that on this winter’s market.

So, if the Royals want a proven backup catcher who knows their pitchers and won’t be a drag on their payroll, they should give Gallagher’s agent a call.

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Cam Gallagher might be a backup catcher Kansas City needs.