Gregg Zaun Rumors

Gregg Zaun Retires

9:59am: Zaun told MLB.com's Corey Brock his shoulder isn't where it needs to be, and he didn't want to leave the team hanging.  Padres GM Jed Hoyer told Brock they'll consider both internal and external options.  As we discussed with the Astros, there isn't a lot out there.

12:43am: Catcher Gregg Zaun is "set to retire from Major League Baseball," reports Sportsnet.ca.  The report says to expect an announcement Monday.  Zaun has served as an analyst for Sportsnet during the playoffs since 2006.

Zaun's decision comes as a surprise, as his first Spring Training start yesterday was deemed a success.  He'd signed a minor league deal with the Padres and was attempting to win the backup catcher job.  Zaun, 40 next month, saw his 2010 season end with June surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.  Zaun contemplated retirement at that point, but told MLB.com's Corey Brock his shoulder responded well to treatment.

Zaun's retirement would clear a path for Rob Johnson to win the Padres' backup job.  Johnson was acquired from the Mariners in December for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Zaun always had a knack for drawing a walk, leading to a .252/.344/.388 line in over 4,000 plate appearances for the Orioles, Marlins, Rangers, Royals, Astros, Rockies, Blue Jays, Rays, and Brewers.  He picked up a World Series ring with the '97 Marlins and earned almost $18MM in his career.


Padres Notes: Bell, Zaun, Bullpen

Here's the latest from the Padres as they try to match their surprising 2010 season…


Padres Sign Gregg Zaun

The Padres signed Gregg Zaun to a minor league deal, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (Twitter links). Zaun and Rob Johnson will compete to back up starter Nick Hundley behind the plate. Padres GM Jed Hoyer also brought in Zaun's former teammate, Guillermo Quiroz, but the 29-year-old Venezuelan isn't expected to make the Opening Day roster.

Zaun missed the second half of the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on his right labrum in June. Zaun, 40 in April, should still be able to reach base if healthy; he has a career .344 on base percentage and posted a .350 OBP before getting hurt last summer. However, he has thrown out just 24% of would-be base stealers in his career.

Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that the sides were close to a deal. T.R. Lewis represents Zaun.



Padres Close To Deal With Gregg Zaun

The Padres are close to a deal with free agent catcher Gregg Zaun, reports Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Earlier today we learned that San Diego was closing in on a contract with Chad Qualls, so GM Jed Hoyer is close to addressing two issues he recently identified.

Zaun, 40 in April, missed most of the 2010 season after having surgery to repair a damaged labrum in his throwing shoulder. In 117 plate appearances with the Brewers, he hit a solid .265/.350/.392 with two homers and nearly as many walks (11) as strikeouts (12). The switch-hitting catcher has thrown out just 24% of attempted base stealers in his career, even less in recent years, and that doesn't figure to get any better after his recent injury.

The Padres were looking to add some depth behind the plate after parting ways with Yorvit Torrealba. Zaun will likely compete with Rob Johnson and Guillermo Quiroz to serve as Nick Hundley's backup.


Cardinals Consider Zaun Fallback Option

The Cardinals consider Gregg Zaun a fallback option in their search for a backup catcher, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The Cards have also been linked to Yadier Molina's brother, Bengie.  Assuming Matt Treanor and Henry Blanco finish expected deals, the backup catcher market could be down to Zaun, Josh Bard, Gerald Laird, and Molina if he's willing.


Cardinals Rumors: Pujols, Backup Catcher, Berkman

On Wednesday night, we heard that the Cardinals would like to add some pitching depth to supplement their current staff. As we enter the early hours of Thursday morning, let's take a look at some other Cardinals notes:

  • Jayson Stark of ESPN.com discusses Albert Pujols' contract negotiations, wondering if the Cardinals will be able to fit an Alex Rodriguez-esque contract into their budget. Within the piece, Tony La Russa reiterates that Pujols doesn't want negotiations to leak into spring training, leading Stark to conclude that if the two sides don't reach an agreement within the next ten weeks, Pujols will be heading for free agency.
  • Speaking to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said he wasn't feeling any urgency about a Pujols extension.
  • Goold writes that the team believed they were close to a deal for a backup catcher before talks faltered late Tuesday night. As of Wednesday, the Cardinals' search for a catcher was in a "holding pattern," according to GM John Mozeliak. St. Louis has been linked to names such as Bengie Molina and Gregg Zaun so far at the Winter Meetings.
  • La Russa told Goold that the Cardinals may go into the year with newly-signed Lance Berkman in right field and Matt Holliday in left, rather than vice versa as initially thought.

Cardinals, Mariners, Athletics Interested In Zaun

TUESDAY, 2:52pm: The Athletics are also in on Zaun, tweets John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse.

MONDAY, 4:48pm: Gregg Zaun is on the Cardinals' radar, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). However, the team hasn't spoken to Zaun's representatives so far at the Winter Meetings. Earlier today, Yahoo's Tim Brown named the Mariners and Cardinals as possible suitors for the veteran catcher (Twitter link).

Zaun missed the second half of the 2010 season after undergoing surgery on his right labrum in June. Zaun, 40 in April, should still be able to reach base if healthy; he has a career .344 on base percentage and posted a .350 OBP before getting hurt this summer. Last month, Zaun said he would prefer to return to the Rays.


Cards Out On Bartlett, Shopping Ryan

We know that St. Louis GM John Mozeliak met with the agent for Albert Pujols today in regards to a possible extension, but as Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch informs us, their immediate to-do list is far shorter.

Following the club's acquisition of Lance Berkman, the Cardinals are now focused on exploring trade interest for defensive whiz Brendan Ryan and securing a backup catcher. The $8MM allocated to Berkman, as well as the same figure that was allocated to Jake Westbrook and the acquisition of Ryan Theriot have left the redbirds with little financial flexibility.

Mozeliak adamantly denied rumors of continued interest in Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett, stating two reasons:

"One is, we've already made a trade for a player," he began. "And Number 2 is, after we did the Berkman deal, (finances) are something we have to become aware of, too. We're pretty comfortable now with what we've done in the middle infield."

Strauss says the Cardinals would want a pitching prospect or fringe major leaguer in return for Ryan's services. Mozeliak made his intentions clear when he prioritized their plans for Ryan in order: trade him for immediate help, trade him for depth, or retain him as a backup.

Ryan's bat doesn't bring much to the table — he hit just .239/.279/.294 last season — but his reputation as a defensive sensation is well-deserved. His UZR has increased in each of the past three seasons, and his cumulative UZR/150 at shortstop over that time is 11.4, second only to Jack Wilson (among players with 1500 innings or more). He's capable of swiping a base (25 SB over the past two seasons, career 75% success rate) and is arbitration-eligible for the first time, meaning he won't see a significant salary in 2011.

The Cardinals filled their backup catcher role with Jason LaRue from 2008-2010, but LaRue retired this season after suffering an injury in a team brawl with the Reds. Earlier today, they were linked to Gregg Zaun, who missed most of 2010 with an injury of his own. However at age 39 and coming off that injury, he should fit into the club's pay range.

As it stands, St. Louis is projected to have approximately a $106MM payroll, which includes a small allocation for a backup catcher in the mold of Zaun. Other options in that price range could include (my own speculation) Josh Bard, Gerald Laird, and Henry Blanco.


M’s Interested In Harden, Zaun, Chavez, Matsui, Cust

11:16pm: The Mariners are also interested in Rich Harden, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

5:28pm: The Mariners are interested in a number of free agents, including two players whose 2010 seasons ended prematurely because of injury. Gregg Zaun, who is on the Cardinals' radar, has caught the Mariners' attention. The team will meet with his agents tonight or tomorrow, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).

Like Zaun, Eric Chavez spent much of the 2010 season on the disabled list. The Mariners have checked in on the longtime Athletic, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

In addition to Zaun and Chavez, the Mariners are interested in Hideki Matsui and Jack Cust as DH options, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).


Gregg Zaun Would Prefer To Sign With Rays

Gregg Zaun would like to return to Tampa Bay, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (on Twitter). Zaun said on Bowden's radio show that his first choice is to sign in Tampa Bay, where he played at the end of the 2009 season.

Zaun's 2010 campaign lasted just 28 games, so the Brewers recently declined their 2011 option for the catcher. He hit .265/.350/.392 before he tore the labrum in his right shoulder and missed the rest of the season. 

Zaun signed a one-year $1.5MM deal with Baltimore before the 2009 season and a one-year $1.9MM deal with Milwaukee before the 2010 season. The 39-year-old is in line for another one-year deal, but could be available for even less than usual because of his injury-shortened season.

Dioner Navarro probably won't be back in Tampa Bay, but the Rays do have John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach, so they don't appear to need Zaun.