The Bucs patched one hole quickly today when they announced the signing of C Rod Barajas. Barajas, 36, was with the Dodgers last season and put up a line of .230/16/ 47, pretty much within his career parameters. He's played 13 MLB seasons for six different teams and never collected more than 429 at-bats, so he's perfectly used to catching four or five times a week.
The right handed hitter's scouting report is short and sweet - strong defensively with good power. So Barajas is Chris Snyder, except a lot easier on the pocketbook.
Tim Brown of Yahoo!Sports tweeted that the Bucs inked Barajas for one year at $4M with a club option for $3.5M in 2013, thought that was not confirmed by Pittsburgh. That's a bit of an overpay - he made $3.25M last year, and LA thought that was too much - but it allowed the club to plug a gaping hole from the git-go and move on to patching some others.
That leaves Jason Jaramillo, Mike McKenry and Matt Pagnozzi in the running for the reserve spot. JJ is out of options and has more experience, and being a switch hitter should give him a leg up on the competition. McKenry is out of options, too, and the Bucs liked his work defensively last season. Pagnozzi, at this point, looks like a veteran insurance policy. The Pirates even re-signed Wyatt Toregas for depth.
Eric Fryer and Tony Sanchez aren't ready to be thrown into the major league mix yet, although the Pirates are crossing their fingers for a 2014 ETA in the show.
So the Bucs got their starting catcher, and hope to get 110-20 games out of him this season. He did start 110 games for the Blue Jays in 2009, but only 172 in the past two years. And his bat will work, too - he's hit 50 long balls in the past three years, a nice number for a guy who looks to bat toward the bottom of the order.
A plus is that Barajas is a Type B free agent, meaning the Dodgers get a compensatory pick for him, but from the league, not the Pirates.
All in all, it seems like a good play by the FO to keep the spot warm for a year or two if Barajas can escape the Pittsburgh curse on catchers' health. Now for that pitching (shortstop)(first base)opening...
Jen Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Bucs may not be done paring their arbitration list yet after outrighting Steve Pearce and Brandon Wood. She writes that GM Neal Huntington says "We're going to non-tender some players that people don't want us to non-tender. We're going to tender some players that
probably surprise some people. But those are the business decisions that we have to make."
There are nine Pirates remaining who are arb-eligible: Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan, Charlie Morton, Evan Meek, Jeff Karstens, Chris Resop, Jose Veras, Ross Ohlendorf and Jason Grilli.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors says "Relievers Meek, Resop, Veras, Grilli, and Hanrahan figure to be
tendered contracts. Each should fall between $800K and $1.5MM, with the exception of Hanrahan, whose saves should propel him to $3.9MM. Starters Morton ($2.2MM) and Karstens ($2.8MM) will remain affordable as well."
"If Meek, Jones, Morton, Resop, Hanrahan, Karstens, Veras, and Grilli are retained," he speculates, "the total could be around $16M." He was assuming Steve Pearce, Brandon Wood and Ohlie weren't getting tendered, and so far he's right for two out of three. We'd guess Veras and Resop are on the bubble, and others have added Jones to that category.
We'd think non-tendering Jones without shoring up first base would be a mistake by the FO. And even if they do fill the position, for the money he'd earn, Jones would be worth keeping if nothing more than a multi-positional lefty bench bat and shiny trade lure.