Free Agent Stock Watch: Gerald Laird

Steve Adams already looked at the stock of one impending free agent in A.J. Pierzynski earlier today, now let's turn our attention to another AL Central catcher. The Tigers informed Gerald Laird that they will not attempt to re-sign him after the season just a week ago, so the soon-to-be 31-year-old backstop will hit the open market for the first time in his career.

Let's see what his stock looks like heading into the winter…

The Good

  • Laird is arguably the best in baseball when it comes to shutting down the opponent's running game. His 34% caught stealing rate was second base among AL catchers this year with at least 650 innings caught this season, and over the last five years he's thrown out a studly 37.6% of base runners.
  • He's extremely durable for a catcher, hitting the disabled list just once since 2004. Like all other catchers though, he'll occasionally miss a day or two with bumps and bruises. It comes with the territory.
  • As a Type-B free agent, a team will not have to surrender a draft pick to sign Laird. It's unlikely that the Tigers would offer him arbitration anyway.

The Bad

  • Laird isn't much of a hitter these days, bottoming out at just .207/.263/.304 in 299 plate appearances this year. Over the last three seasons he's put together a .238/.303/.342 batting line.
  • Laird's a Scott Boras client, so negotiations don't figure to be easy.

The Verdict

The offensive bar for catchers is pretty low right now, with backstops around the league hitting just .249/.319/.381 in 2010. Given the lack of offense found at the position, teams are focusing more on defense behind the plate, so Laird's cannon arm has definite value. 

Jose Molina, a similar no-hit/all-throw catcher, was only able to find a one-year deal worth $400K guaranteed (plus incentives and an club option) last offseason, and even then he had to wait until mid-February. Laird is likely facing a similar situation; a one-year, low base salary contract with some performance bonuses to be a backup somewhere. Catchers are always getting hurt, so even if he settles for a minor league deal he'll probably get an opportunity at some point next summer.

18 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Gerald Laird Leave a Reply

  1. I’m thinking Laird will get 1-2 million on a 1 year deal. Or maybe a million with incentives on a 2 year deal. Can’t see him signing for more than 2 years.

  2. qudjy1 5 years ago

    I think AZ should sign him for a back up to montero. Well – if he costs about what Molina got that is… He would make a good compliment for Montero – RHed Platoon, and Defensive skills offset Monteros weaknesses.

  3. Guest 5 years ago

    He’ll probably get 1 year/850k, + 600k in incentives, and a team option for a second year at 1.8m

  4. Laird says he wants a starting job, so he’ll be moving on. Not that he’d be invited back, cuz he won’t be, but he’ll be hard pressed to get a starting gig with what he’s done at the plate the last couple of seasons.

  5. johnsilver 5 years ago

    What catcher of Boras’s is worth the most? Tek and his intangibles, or Laird and his arm? Neither are worth anything else except for that one thing, but like the story above said, Boras will hype both up and ask for far more than they are worth until it’s January and jobs are scarce.

    Can’t see either getting over 1M myself and possible for both to end up with minor league deals, Another fine job by Boras perhaps on these two when it’s all said and done.

  6. chaifetz10 5 years ago

    One disagreement with this article: I’d say Yadier Molina is the best at shutting down the running game. Laird could be second, but no way is he better than Molina in St. Louis…

  7. What, is Boras gonna blow his contract negotiations out of proportion, and say Laird is a good offensive catcher along with great defense, and that he deserves more than 3 years??

  8. j6takish 5 years ago

    Didn’t him and his little brother get busted for bar fighting or something?

  9. fitz 5 years ago

    second base second best same difference

  10. The Bad outweighs the Good
    The Bad: I get the impression that the Tigers simply don’t want to deal with some of Gerald Laird’s potential off-field issues. Even after the Miguel Cabrera alcohol related incident at the end of last season, Laird had more than one alcohol related problem in the off-season. He then began the season with .170 and sloppy defense. Worse, many Tiger fans got the impression that he didn’t get along with the pitching staff. For a catcher, 31-32 can be old; Laird showed signs of decline.
    The Good: Speaking of Yadiar Molina, even he has OFF days. When Laird is ON, he’s definitely an outstanding defensive catcher and can change a game. Never an offensive force, he can be a good bunter. In Laird’s defense, in a Smokey Jim Leyland’s type team, offense is everything and defense is at best, tertiary.

  11. ugotrpk3113 5 years ago

    I would love to have Molina or Laird in Boston on a one year deal. It would be nice to see how well Buchholz would do without having to worry about the runner at first and check over as often as he does.

    • So hard to find a good offensive catcher with a good glove these days. Twins obviously gotta be happy with Mauer and Nats gotta be happy with Wilson Ramos

    • So hard to find a good offensive catcher with a good glove these days. Twins obviously gotta be happy with Mauer and Nats gotta be happy with Wilson Ramos

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