Eli Whiteside Rumors

Yankees Claim Eli Whiteside

The Yankees announced that they claimed catcher Eli Whiteside off of waivers from the Giants.

Whiteside appeared in 12 games with the Giants this past season and played another 60 contests with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate. In parts of five seasons at the MLB level, the 33-year-old has a .215/.273/.335 batting line. Whiteside, a right-handed hitter, became San Francisco's primary catcher in 2011 after Buster Posey went on the disabled list. He's arbitration eligible with a projected 2013 salary of $600K.

Giants Sign Emmanuel Burriss

The Giants announced that they signed arbitration eligible infielder Emmanuel Burriss to a one-year Major League contract. The team also confirmed the signing of catcher Eli Whiteside to a one-year, Major League deal. 

Nez Balelo of CAA Sports represents Burriss, one of San Francisco's many arbitration eligible players. The 26-year-old appeared at every infield position and in left field in 2011 while posting a .204/.253/.212 line in 152 plate appearances. He has appeared in parts of four Major League seasons and had a projected salary of $600K heading into the offseason.

Giants Sign Eli Whiteside

The Giants have signed catcher Eli Whiteside to a Major League contract, reports John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). San Francisco non-tendered the 32-year-old Pro Star Management client this past Monday, and we heard he was close to a return on Wednesday.

Whiteside started playing regularly when Buster Posey's season ended this past May, posting a modest .197/.264/.310 line in 236 plate appearances. Had the Giants tendered Whiteside a contract, he would have been in line for a 2012 salary in the $700K range, according to our projections. He figures to compete with Hector Sanchez and Chris Stewart for playing time behind Posey in 2012.

Giants, Eli Whiteside Nearing Deal

The Giants are nearing a deal with catcher Eli Whiteside, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). San Francisco non-tendered the 32-year-old Pro Star Management client Monday.

Whiteside started playing regularly when Buster Posey's season ended this past May, posting a modest .197/.264/.310 line in 236 plate appearances. Had the Giants tendered Whiteside a contract, he would have been in line for a 2012 salary in the $700K range, according to our projections. He figures to compete with Hector Sanchez and Chris Stewart for playing time behind Posey in 2012.

National League Non-Tenders

Here are this year's National League non-tenders. You can also keep track of all teams with our non-tender tracker and check out our list of non-tender candidates:

Giants Notes: Burrell, Ross, Sanchez, Whiteside

The 2011 Giants closely resembled last year’s World Championship team, but change lies ahead for San Francisco. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle explains that health considerations and the rising cost of arbitration eligible players will shape next year’s Giants team. Here are some highlights from Schulman's piece:

  • Pat Burrell could again sign a one-year deal when he hits free agency after the season (he earns $1MM this year), but he may have to retire because of a foot injury. Burrell says he’ll play as long as he’s healthy enough to take the field.
  • Schulman says it’s hard to imagine the Giants offering Cody Ross a raise from $6.3MM or agreeing to a multiyear deal when the outfielder hits free agency.
  • Mark DeRosa is hoping to sign closer to Atlanta, where he makes his home, and realizes he may be in line for a minor league deal.
  • The Giants will probably decline Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option for 2012, but they’ll “almost certainly” pursue him in free agency, according to Schulman.
  • Jonathan Sanchez and Andres Torres are non-tender candidates. When MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes identified Sanchez and Torres as non-tender candidates last month, he pointed out that Sanchez’s salary would rise over $6MM (he now earns $4.8MM) through arbitration. 
  • Eli Whiteside is another non-tender candidate, Schulman writes.
  • Jeff Keppinger, who’s arbitration eligible, will likely return in 2012 and it’s hard to imagine the Giants cutting Nate Schierholtz after seeing him progress in 2011.
  • The Giants may not have room on the roster for both Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss.

Bay Area Notes: Ellis, Breslow, Fuentes, Whiteside

Here's the latest on the A's and the Giants, including some trade rumors between the two clubs themselves…

  • "The Giants are not pursuing" A's second baseman Mark Ellis, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  (Twitter links).  The Giants at least checked in on Ellis but have cooled their pursuit for a variety of reasons, including Ellis' salary, his poor performance this season, Oakland's trade demands and the presence of Bill Hall, Emmanuel Burriss and Freddy Sanchez (who could still return from the DL) on the roster.   
  • Rival scouts have been watching Brian Fuentes and Craig Breslow, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Of the two southpaws, the Athletics would be more apt to move Fuentes since he has around $7.6MM remaining on his contract through 2012, whereas Breslow still has two more arbitration years left.  Fuentes also stirred up controversy earlier this season when he criticized then-manager Bob Geren.  These two pitchers and Jerry Blevins made MLBTR's Tim Dierkes' recent list of potentially-available left-handers.
  • Eli Whiteside has been ignoring the rumors about the Giants' catching search, reports Chris Haft and Adam Berry for MLB.com.  The incumbent starter has been hitting well lately, which Whiteside attributes to getting regular playing time.
  • Another internal option for the Giants: Triple-A catcher Hector SanchezSchulman reports that Barry Zito was very complimentary about Sanchez's game-calling abilities during Zito's recent rehab stint at Fresno.  Sanchez, 21, has a .299/.327/.495 line in 226 plate appearances this season, though just 42 of them have been at the Triple-A level.

Finding Backup Catchers Who Can Hit

Nearly a month after Buster Posey last suited up for them, the Giants are still searching for catching depth. They signed Max Ramirez today, but he figures to provide organizational depth at Triple-A, not an immediate impact in San Francisco.

Eli Whiteside

Eli Whiteside (pictured) continues playing regularly for the Giants, though his offense remains inadequate and the Giants continue seeking reinforcements. A look at backups around the league provides insight into why Whiteside continues playing so often despite his struggles throwing out opposing base stealers and paltry .190 average.

Few teams, if any, have the catching depth to withstand the loss of a player like Posey. The league average catcher is hitting .241/.314/.378 so far in 2011 and that slash line includes starters as well as reserves. The job of a catcher includes calling pitches, blocking balls in the dirt and throwing runners out as well as hitting, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on offense as we examine the caliber of backup catching in MLB.

Victor Martinez (.324/.373/.498 slash line) and Mike Napoli (.221/.344/.493 before he hit the disabled list) are technically backup catchers, though both DH and play first as well. Ramon Hernandez is one of the few backup catchers who can match Martinez and Napoli in terms of offensive production this year. The 35-year-old has seven homers and a .302/.368/.504 line in 155 plate appearances (Ryan Hanigan now starts for the Reds most days). Royals backup Brayan Pena is another one of the reserves with an acceptable batting line this year: .250/.310/.400 in 113 trips to the plate.

Evaluating backups who have fewer than 100 plate appearances is dangerous, since the sample sizes are generally too small to be reliable. With that in mind, here are some other backstops off to decent starts with the bat: Ramon Castro of the White Sox (.211/.274/.404 slash line in 62 plate appearances), Kyle Phillips of the Padres (.239/.327/.413 in 52 PA), Henry Blanco of the D’Backs (.229/.302/.521 in 53 PA), Ronny Paulino of the Mets (.317/.371/.390 in 89 PA), David Ross of the Braves (.327/.411/.551 in 56 PA), Jose Molina of the Blue Jays (.304/.389/.456 in 91 PA), Brett Hayes of the Marlins (.298/.353/.511 in 52 PA) and the injured Jose Morales of the Rockies (.267/.352/.317 in 71 PA).

Those backups are solid hitters, though certainly not Victor Martinez-like offensive forces, and the're best of the bunch. Most teams are getting far less offensive production from their second catcher and many don't even have one catcher who makes significant contributions at the plate.

There aren’t many options for the Giants or any other club that decides to take on the unenviable task of finding catching help this summer. San Francisco is looking to the Rangers for catching depth, since Texas could make a move once Napoli is healthy enough to play. Wilson Ramos’ performance has led to plenty of discussion and speculation about Ivan Rodriguez, though he’s not the most interesting catcher to watch between now and July 31st.

Ramon Hernandez’s .872 OPS will surely appeal to teams and, unlike most clubs, the Reds could conceivably part with a catcher. Hanigan’s emergence has continued this year and Devin Mesoraco, who entered the season as Baseball America's #64 prospect, is destroying Triple-A pitching. The former first rounder has a .322/.402/.546 line for Louisville after a similarly impressive showing in 2010. 

Given the Reds’ depth – they also have highly-touted prospect Yasmani Grandal in the lower minors – and the shortage of catching in MLB, I won’t be surprised if GM Walt Jocketty hears from a number of interested teams this summer. Only so many catchers can hit and Hernandez is a known commodity who’s playing well.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

Quick Hits: Guthrie, Giants, Brewers, Realignment

Here are a few stray items of note as Mike Moustakas bashes the first homer of his career for the Royals:

Giants Continue Eyeing Catchers

Exactly two weeks have passed since Buster Posey’s season ended with a gruesome home plate collision. Faced with the reality that Eli Whiteside is struggling as an everyday player, the Giants appear to be “ramping up their pursuit of another catcher,” according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. It’s even possible that they’ll look to add two catchers. 

Whiteside will continue to get most of the starts for now, but his .164/.266/.255 batting line doesn't inspire much confidence and he has thrown out just 15% of would-be base stealers. Whiteside has four singles and five walks in 37 plate appearances since the day Posey went down, so it's not surprising that the 34-27 Giants are considering ways of adding to a catching corps that includes Whiteside and Chris Stewart.