Gerald Laird Rumors

Cardinals Sign Gerald Laird

The Cardinals signed catcher Gerald Laird on a one-year deal, the team announced. SI's Jon Heyman reports that the contract will pay Laird $1MM.  He can earn another $300K in incentives.  Laird will serve as Yadier Molina's backup, replacing Jason LaRue.

Laird, 31, hit .207/.263/.304 in 299 plate appearances for the Tigers this year, catching 670 2/3 innings.  He gunned down 34% of attempted basestealers, so the Cardinals will never be easy to run on in 2011.  Laird's offensive woes in his two-year Detroit stint have relegated him to backup duty, and his starts could be particularly rare given Molina's durability. 

Laird is represented by Scott Boras.  Our transaction tracker reveals that he's the fourth Boras client to sign this winter.  The free agent market for catchers is down to four viable options, three if Bengie Molina retires.

Mets, Rockies Talking To Ronny Paulino

4:41pm: The Mets are talking to Paulino about a one-year deal worth $1.3MM, according to Jon Heyman of (on Twitter).

3:51pm: The Rockies, who have been linked to a number of free agent catchers, are exchanging offers with Paulino, according to Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

11:13am: The Mets are in on a group of right-handed hitting catchers such as Paulino, Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, Russell Martin, and Dioner Navarro, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  They prefer a one-year deal.

10:11am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets are still talking to a lot of catcher possibilities, Paulino included (Twitter link).

8:45am: The Mets are closing in on catcher Ronny Paulino, reports ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr.  New manager Terry Collins has described Josh Thole as a "number one catcher," so presumably Paulino will serve as his backup.

Paulino, recently non-tendered by the Marlins, hit .259/.311/.354 in 316 plate appearances this year while catching 740 1/3 innings.  He was hit with a 50-game PED suspension in August.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.

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.

Tigers Will Not Pick Up Magglio Ordonez’s Option, Have Talked With Inge About Multi-Year Deal

GM Dave Dombrowski announced that the Tigers will not pick up Magglio Ordonez's $15MM club option for 2011, reports Tom Gage of The Detroit News. Dombrowski did say that the team remains open-minded about bringing Ordonez back, however.

Meanwhile, Dombrowski also said the team wants to bring third baseman Brandon Inge back, and confirmed that the two sides have discussed a multi-year deal. Jhonny Peralta is another player they'd like to bring back according to Gage. The Tigers did however inform Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird that they will not be re-signed, according to's Jason Beck (via Twitter). Dombrowski added that they "most likely" will choose not to pursue Jeremy Bonderman either.

Ordonez's option was likely to vest if not for a season ending-ankle injury in late-July. He hit .303/.378/.474 with more walks (40) than strikeouts (38) in 365 plate appearances before the injury, a nice rebound from a down 2009 campaign. Inge is in the final season of a four-year, $24MM deal, though his .247/.321/.392 batting line is the worst of any full season of his career. Thankfully his defense at the hot corner is strong, with a +10.3 UZR since 2008. A multi-year offer might be too good for Inge to pass up.

Peralta was acquired from the Indians at the trade deadline, and hit .254/.315/.399 in 238 plate appearances for Detroit. He played mostly shortstop after the trade, the most action he's gotten at the position since 2008. The Tigers hold a $7MM club option for his services next season, but they'll likely buy that out for $250K and attempt to negotiate a lower salary.

Damon hit .271/.355/.401 after signing a one-year, $8MM deal last offseason, while Laird mustered just a .218/.289/.313 batting line in his two seasons with Detroit. He's fantastic defensively though, having thrown out 72 of 189 potential base stealers (38.1%) during that time. The 27-year-old Bonderman stayed healthy for the first time since 2007 this year, though he posted a 5.53 ERA in 171 innings. He's just wrapping up a four-year, $38MM deal and will hit free agency for the first time.

Odds & Ends: Pettitte, Marlins, Laird, Pirates, Ely

Sunday links, as the Rays look to extend their league-best winning streak to five games….

Odds & Ends: Miller, Laird, Fielder, V-Mart

As the Giants pick up a major win over the Rockies tonight, here are some news items….

Top Trade Chips: AL Central

Let's continue our look at each club's top trade chips today with the AL Central…

  • Indians: The Tribe have dealt their Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons, and there's a good chance they'll do it again with Jake Westbrook in 2010. The 32-year-old righty will earn $11MM this season, the last one on his contract. After dumping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in cost-cutting moves last year, expect them to shop Westbrook around for prospects this summer.
  • Royals: All four of Kansas City's outfielders come off the books after this season (assuming some options are bought out for six figures), so Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and even Jose Guillen could be moved in a deal for a young player. The team would obviously have to eat a lot of money to move Guillen. The contracts of relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth also expire after the season, so there might be some interest in them.
  • Tigers: Detroit isn't going to move any of their young power arms, but if they eat a large chunk of salary like they did with Nate Robertson, there might be interest in Jeremy Bonderman and/or Dontrelle Willis. Young backstop Alex Avila could make Gerald Laird expendable as well. The Tigers have four lefty relievers on their 40-man roster (Phil Coke, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas), and that demographic is always in demand.
  • Twins: Minnesota has one of the best trade chips in the league, blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Lefty Glen Perkins is pitching in Triple-A and seems to have fallen out of favor with the club after filing a grievance, so he could be made available as well. He has four years of team control left.
  • White Sox: GM Kenny Williams isn't shy about emptying out the farm system in a trade for an established big leaguer, which has left him with little minor league ammo. Their best young prospects are catcher Tyler Flowers and starter Daniel Hudson, who would seem to have a future with the club, but I'm not going to put anything past Williams. Flowers could make A.J. Pierzynski or Ramon Castro expendable, ditto Hudson and Freddy Garcia. Gordon Beckham should be untouchable, obviously.

Odds & Ends: Bay, Byrd, Liriano, Duchscherer

Some links on the last day of a year we'll remember for Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols and the World Series Champion New York Yankees…

  • Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother Brandon Laird, a prospect in the Yankees farm system, were arrested following a brawl at the Celtics-Suns NBA game in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the Associated Press.  Gerald lives in Arizona during the offseason while Brandon played in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via his newly minted Twitter account) that Chan Ho Park's name has come up in the Giants' front office.
  • Alex Speier of hears that Jason Bay was indeed interested in joining the Mets. The two sides didn't go longer than a day without talking once negotiations got started. An interesting note: Speier hears that the Mets never offered Bay a guaranteed five-year deal.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs considers Marlon Byrd an average player, but likes the Cubs' decision to sign him.
  • Cameron tweets that the Mariners are "kicking the tires" on Francisco Liriano.
  • Mike Lowell's thumb surgery was a success, according to Rob Bradford of Lowell appears to be available, but health concerns may prevent the Red Sox from dealing the third baseman and some of his $12MM salary (the D'Backs face a similar challenge with Chris Snyder). 
  • Just because Lowell's still in Boston doesn't mean the Red Sox won't consider other third basemen. Adrian Beltre is one option and R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs doesn't think $10-15MM is an unfair asking price for the Scott Boras client. 
  • Justin Duchscherer tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he returned to the A's because he's comfortable in Oakland and appreciates the club's support through his struggles with depression. Slusser also has details on the incentives in the righty's contract. 
  • Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wants the Yankees to stay away from free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd. 
  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates' failure to sign Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano was one of the club's low points this year. As Kovacevic says, "not every signing can be an absolute steal."  

Torrealba, Rockies $400K Apart

The Rockies are just $400K apart on a new contract with catcher Yorvit Torrealba, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  Torrealba wants to match Ivan Rodriguez's deal (two years, $6MM) while the Rockies are at two years and $5.6MM.

With the Royals apparently focused on Jason Kendall, Torrealba's other options are the Mets and Giants.  The Mets have an offer out to Bengie Molina, but Renck notes that Torrealba is "scheduled to travel to New York next week to resolve his pending grievance" with them.  He says the Giants like Torrealba on a one-year deal, and also made an inquiry on Detroit's Gerald Laird.