Miguel Olivo Rumors

Mariners Designate Anthony Varvaro For Assignment

The Mariners have designated Anthony Varvaro for assignment, tweets Larry Stone of The Seattle Times.  The reliever was DFA'd to make room for Miguel Olivo, whose deal became official this afternoon.

Varvaro, 26, was projected to be a top pick out of St. John's University in 2005 before suffering an elbow injury.   The right-hander would instead be nabbed by the M's in the 12th round of the draft as he required surgery before ever throwing a pitch as a pro.  He threw just four innings for Seattle after making his major league debut in 2010.

Mariners Reach Agreement With Miguel Olivo

The Mariners won't be going young at catcher anytime soon.  Today they reached an agreement with backstop Miguel Olivo on a two-year, $7MM deal, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX SportsGeoff Baker of the Seattle Times notes, "Adam Moore's stock with this team appears to have taken a hit."  As you might expect, Olivo has been told he's the No. 1 catcher.

Olivo, 32, hit .269/.315/.449 with 14 home runs in 427 plate appearances for the Rockies this year.  He caught 935 innings, throwing out 42% of attempted basestealers.  Olivo previously played for the Mariners in parts of the '04 and '05 seasons after coming over from the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia trade.  This is a nice contract for Olivo, who is represented by Martin Arburua.  He's the fifth catcher to score a multiyear deal this winter.

The Rockies shipped Olivo to the Blue Jays in November, who declined his mutual option at the price of $500K and later offered him arbitration.  They'll now get a supplementary draft pick for their troubles.

Mariners Offer Olivo Multiyear Deal?

THURSDAY, 9:12am: Olivo has told people he expects to get a deal done with somebody today, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Baker notes that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said he's had "in-depth dialogue" on a catcher.

WEDNESDAY, 8:31pm: The Mariners have not made an official offer, according to Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune (on Twitter).

8:10pm: The Mariners have offered Miguel Olivo a multiyear deal and are discussing a potential agreement with him, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). In 427 plate appearances for the Rockies last year, the nine-year veteran batted .269/.315/.449 with 14 homers. Olivo spent part of 2004-05 in Seattle.

The catcher declined arbitration from the Blue Jays after earning a $2MM base salary in 2010, so he and agent Martin Arburua presumably believe that there's more than $3MM or so available on the open market. Otherwise, they could have accepted Toronto's offer. If the Mariners complete a major league deal with the 32-year-old, the  Blue Jays will obtain a supplementary first round pick.

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 SI.com (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.

Mariners Rumors: Olivo, Second Base, Diaz

The Mariners have been linked to Rich Harden, Gregg Zaun, Eric Chavez, Hideki Matsui, Jack Cust, Matt Diaz, Koji Uehara, and even Zack Greinke in recent days.  The latest:

  • ESPN's Mike Salk says Miguel Olivo's name is popping up more than Zaun's in association with Seattle.  Olivo spent parts of the '04 and '05 seasons with the Mariners.
  • Salk says the Mariners are looking harder for a second baseman than a third baseman.  They prefer Chone Figgins at third.
  • Salk describes the Mariners' interest in Matsui as tire-kicking and is skeptical a deal will happen.
  • The Ms are more focused on their everyday lineup than rotation right now, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • The Mariners are in on Matt Diaz, but they're one of as many as ten teams.  ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that things are moving fast with Diaz.  He's expected to pick a team by midday Wednesday, tweets Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse.  Diaz's agent Larry Reynolds told WEEI's Rob Bradford his client could even sign today.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Decisions

23 American League free agents were offered arbitration on November 23rd.  Four of those - Joaquin Benoit, John Buck, Victor Martinez, and Javier Vazquez - already have new contract agreements.  Current free agent Kevin Gregg has chosen to decline.  The remaining 18 AL free agents offered arbitration will have their decisions noted here and in our tracker.

Dodgers Interested In Damon, Multiple Catchers

The Dodgers have outfielder Johnny Damon on their radar, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  They're also in contact with "virtually every free agent catcher," including Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas, A.J. Pierzynski, and Miguel Olivo.  They're trying to hammer out a deal with Russell Martin prior to Thursday's non-tender deadline; the Dodgers will not risk going to arbitration with him.

Martin is at least a week away from running and maybe six weeks away from baseball activities, says Rosenthal.  Martin is recovering from an August hip fracture; his agent Matt Colleran gave MLBTR an update last week.  Martin would still be at $4MM if the Dodgers cut his salary by the maximum, something Colleran would presumably reject anyway.

As Rosenthal notes, Damon might be an awkward fit for the Dodgers in left field since he logged fewer than 300 outfield innings in 2010.  On the other hand, the Dodgers put up with Manny Ramirez in left field for over 1,100 innings across the 2009-10 seasons. 

The Dodgers have been aggressive this offseason, committing over $71MM to Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland, and Jay Gibbons.

Poll: Top Free Agent Catcher

Assuming you consider Victor Martinez a part-time catcher, part-time first baseman, and part-time designated hitter, John Buck was the best free agent catcher available this offseason. He hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 homers for the Blue Jays last year, but he's since signed a hefty three-year deal with the Marlins. As always, the number of teams looking for a quality backstop far exceed the number that are actually available, but there's still a few out there.

Miguel Olivo is a lock for double-digit homers year in and year out, and the same can be said for Rod Barajas. Both have thrown out a high percentage of would-be base stealers historically. Yorvit Torrealba has a .346 OBP over the last two years, a mark just eight other catchers can top. Jason Varitek hit for a ton of power (.473 SLG) in limited action this year. Then there's A.J. Pierzynski. He's started no fewer than 124 games behind the plate in five of the last six years, and his .284 AVG since 2008 can be topped by only three other catchers.

The Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres are known to be seeking help behind the plate, and it's safe to assume that the Mariners and Red Sox will hunt for upgrades as well. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Yankees, Rockies, Mets, or Orioles tried to improve their backup catcher situation either.

Who is the best catcher still available on the free agent market?

Click here to vote, and here to see the results. Thanks in advance.

Blue Jays Rumors: Frasor, Downs, Lind

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the organization can afford to be more patient than last offseason, since his team's needs are less pressing than they were a year ago. Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, from MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm:

  • Anthopoulos doesn’t know whether Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Miguel Olivo will accept arbitration, but he hopes to have the players back in Toronto for the 2011 season. Asked to predict the players’ decisions, Anthopoulos guessed they will decline the team’s offers.
  • The club thought Adam Lind played respectably good defense at first base, but has yet to determine the 27-year-old’s position for 2011.
  • The Blue Jays are open to acquiring a player with “baggage” under the right circumstances. "It depends, how significant is it? Would it affect other players?” Anthopoulos asked. “If it's the right player, and the right fit, the right talent, at the right price, then you have to be open to it."
  • That's good news for fans hoping to see Manny Ramirez in Toronto. ESPN.com's Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.

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.