Free Agent Stock Watch: Miguel Olivo

The Blue Jays pulled off a nice little move when they acquired Miguel Olivo from the Rockies 17 days ago, essentially swapping a player to be named later or cash for a supplemental first round draft pick. Toronto declined Olivo's $2.5MM option, so add the $500K buyout to the bounty for the draft pick, but more importantly it made Olivo a free agent. Let's review the backstop's stock…

The Good

  • Olivo is a proven power threat, hitting no fewer than a dozen homers every year since 2006 and averaging 16 per season during that span. Brian McCann is the only other backstop with double digit homers in each of those years (min. 60% of games behind the plate).
  • He's adept at stopping the running game, throwing out 124 of 343 attempted basestealers (36.2%) over the last five seasons.
  • Despite the rigors of catching, Olivo has been on the disabled list just once in his career; he missed 15 days when he had kidney stones removed during the summer of 2004. Other than various day-to-day ailments associated with the position, he's been perfectly healthy.
  • He's just a Type-B free agent, so it won't cost a draft pick to sign him.

The Bad

  • Olivo will turn 33 next July, an age when catchers can start to turn into pumpkins.
  • Power is the only thing to like about his offensive game. He doesn't hit for average (.246 career) or draw walks (just 108 unintentional walks in over 3,000 career plate appearances), resulting in paltry on-base percentages (.283 career).
  • As good as he is at throwing out base runners, Olivo has led the league in passed balls in four of the last five seasons.

The Verdict

As usual, the number of teams looking for a catcher this winter far exceeds the number of quality catchers available. The Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Padres, and others could all be in the market for a new backstop, so Olivo should have his pick of offers. He's not likely to match John Buck's three-year, $18MM contract given his age, but Olivo's one of the best free agent catchers and the open market should yield a two-year contract.

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