Originally written January 19, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
The Mariners need to add depth at catcher The Mariners traded catcher and fan favorite John Jaso to Oakland in a three team trade to receive 1B/OF Michael Morse. This is a trade the Mariners needed to make, in spite of his popularity; Jaso was a valuable pinch hitter/platoon player. If Michael Morse can return to 2011 form, then Seattle received an every day 1B/OF that will add power and good average (against lefties and righties), which is a trade worth making. So what do the Mariners do now? In seems irrational to entrust 162 games behind the plate to Jesus Montero, that also sounds like a terrible choice for his development as a player without injuries. Mike Zunino, the Mariners first round pick last summer, is going to be an option for the 25-man roster, but that would not be a wise move for the team. Two months seems like a long time, but simply waiting until June (as the Mariners did with Ackley two summers ago) will extend his contract under team control another year. If Zunino is truly ready, he will not arrive in Seattle in June anyway. Management will let him gain confidence in Tacoma until then. Who is available as a free agent that could help this Mariners team defensively (unlike Jaso) and as a platoon/pinch hitter type (like Jaso)? Let’s look at who is available. Kelly Shoppach If one former Tampa Bay Ray was good, perhaps another would be better. Shoppach spent two years as the backup catcher in Tampa Bay under Joe Maddon and spent last year splitting time with the Red Sox and Mets. His purposes as a hitter would be Brendan Ryan-esque, his main purpose coming behind the plate. He is the youngest realistic option available at 32, which is good for catchers. Jesus Montero just isn’t a guy who can go 162 games behind the plate (Photo: Bleacher Report) Rod Barajas Barajas was behind the plate for 97 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year, which would be more than enough to back up Montero for the 2013 M’s. He has never played a 162-game season, but his numbers project to a 20 home run/162 game player. In 2009, he finished in the top 10 in the AL for sacrifice flies. Perhaps some late inning Jaso-like pop would come too. Barajas is 37, but was the only remaining free agent catcher that finished in the top 25 for catchers in UZR (according to fangraphs.com). He finished 25th. Yorvit Torrealba Former Rangers catcher would be familiar with the division and Mariners pitchers, but his career has certainly taken some bumps after being traded twice in 2012. The Mariners could definitely find a diamond in the rough here, well, maybe not a diamond; perhaps the M’s could find a dime in the rough here. Miguel Olivo Yes, this is funny. Yes, only weeks ago most Mariners fans moved on knowing the future at catcher was brighter and more exciting now. Like an abandoned girlfriend/boyfriend that was dumped for bigger and better things, sometimes those feelings can be reignited and all forgiven. Maybe a nice, one-year deal with less expectations and the promise of more fun would be enticing enough for the slighted Olivo. Maybe he’ll be appreciated more this time around. This is the most likely option for the M’s if Olivo is healthy. They would only need him for two months to stay afloat. Reignite that flame baby. Cheers CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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