The Tigers' catching at the upper levels is thin right now. How thin? Dusty Ryan is the only player in the organization capable of performing well in Toledo or Detroit this year. That is, if they get their way and James Skelton becomes somebody else's problem.
I'm not saying that James Skelton is a guarantee to step in and become the Tigers' everyday catcher, but when you have one capable upper level catcher and a weak free agent class, it makes no sense to expose a player -- one who has succeeded at every step of the minors -- to the Rule 5 draft. In this situation, the Tigers should be looking anywhere and everywhere for possible catchers next year. Whether it is for insurance for Dusty Ryan and his eventual backup, or to fill the holes left in Toledo (No, Andrew Graham and Max St. Pierre are not valid third catcher options). Risking losing a potential late season option is not the answer. Risking losing somebody who could be a viable catching option long term is worse.
My biggest fear is that the Tigers neglected Skelton for the wrong reasons. Not because Alex Avila and Dusty Ryan may project as better prospects than him. Not because of the lack of power. No, my fear is that he was left off the 40 man roster because he doesn't look like a catcher. While I've gone into the fallacies of that argument before, we can hopefully rest assured that if this move blows up in the Tigers' face, they will have learned their lesson. Unfortunately, by that time it would be too late.