Former Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase claimed off waivers by Cleveland Guardians

Detroit Free Press

Former Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase has returned to his original organization.

The Cleveland Guardians claimed Haase — selected in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB draft out of Dearborn Divine Child — off waivers Monday from the Tigers. Fellow catcher Zack Collins was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Haase, who received 34 plate appearances in 19 games for Cleveland across the 2018-19 seasons, is expected to be the backup catcher to Guardians top prospect Bo Naylor for the remainder of the 2023 season.

“I’m happy for him,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Monday. “He deserves to be in the big leagues, and of course, he’s going to end up in our division, so we’re going to see him again by the end of the year.”

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The Tigers and Guardians, both in the American League Central, finish the regular season against each other in a three-game series from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. As of Tuesday morning, the Guardians are six games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins. (The Tigers are eight games out of first place.)

Haase was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Saturday, and replaced by new catcher Carson Kelly, while the Tigers were playing against the Guardians at Progressive Field.

“Like I said when we DFA’d him, he’s been universally liked, loved and respected,” Hinch said. “It’s not a surprise that a team felt like he should be on their team. We’re all happy for him, and we expect him to bounce back from what’s been a tough season.”

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The Guardians traded Haase to the Tigers in January 2020 for cash considerations. The 30-year-old competed in 301 games for the Tigers in parts of four seasons from 2020-23, playing 294 of those games from 2021-23.

Haase, a Westland native and Livonia resident, hit .231 with 22 home runs in 2021, then .254 with 14 homers in 2022. He struggled in 2023, hitting .201 with four home runs, 16 walks (5.7% walk rate) and 78 strikeouts (27.7% strikeout rate) in 86 games.

The biggest issue: He failed to produce against left-handed pitchers — his calling card over the past two seasons — with a .129 batting average and one home run in 72 plate appearances.

But the Tigers’ pitching staff posted a 3.75 ERA in 468 innings with Haase behind the plate this season.

“He loves Detroit,” Hinch said Saturday, after the Tigers cut Haase. “This is his childhood team. He worked his way into our lineup and did a lot of things for us and for the organization.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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