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Rays continue to add depth at catcher with former Angel Kevan Smith

Tampa Bay has now signed two former big league backups as non-roster invitees to spring training. Smith joins Chris Herrmann, who signed last week.
Former Angels catcher Kevan Smith is expected to compete in the spring with Michael Perez and Chris Herrmann for the role of backup catcher in Tampa Bay. JIM YOUNG | AP Photo
Former Angels catcher Kevan Smith is expected to compete in the spring with Michael Perez and Chris Herrmann for the role of backup catcher in Tampa Bay. JIM YOUNG | AP Photo [ JIM YOUNG | AP ]
Published Jan. 12, 2020
Updated Jan. 12, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays have come to terms on a minor league deal with former White Sox and Angels catcher Kevan Smith and are expected to finalize the contract, with an invitation to Major League spring training, in the next day or two.

Smith, 31, split catching duties with Jonathan Lucroy in Los Angeles last season, hitting .251 with five home runs in 211 plate appearances. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with a concussion and back spasms.

The previous two seasons, Smith started a combined 119 games in Chicago. He was claimed on waivers by the Angels last off-season and then non-tendered by Los Angeles when he became arbitration-eligible in December.

Smith has been a decent contact hitter (lifetime .272 batting average) with little power, but has struggled to throw out baserunners and is not considered particularly strong at pitch framing.

Along with veteran Chris Herrmann, who was also recently signed to a minor league deal, the Rays now have a little more depth behind the plate after the loss of Travis d’Arnaud to free agency. Mike Zunino will go into camp as the No. 1 catcher with Michael Perez, Herrmann and Smith providing depth on the big league and Triple-A rosters.

The Rays had a rash of injuries at catcher last season, with six different players getting at least one start behind the plate.

John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.