Miguel Olivo Rumors
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 Sports. Geoff 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- Cliff Lee (A) declined the Rangers' offer, as expected.
- Miguel Olivo will decline the Blue Jays' offer, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jason Frasor (A) will accept the team's offer, according to Mike Wilner of the FAN 590. Scott Downs (A) will decline the Blue Jays' offer, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier that Jason Frasor would either sign a multiyear deal or accept arb (Twitter link).
- Adrian Beltre will decline arbitration from the Red Sox, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Felipe Lopez (B) will also decline an offer of arbitration, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- Carl Pavano (A) has officially turned down arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). Orlando Hudson (B) will decline the Twins' offer of arbitration, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tweets of "strong indications" Jesse Crain (B) will also decline.
- A source tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that Paul Konerko (A) will decline arbitration (Twitter link). J.J. Putz (B) declined arbitration from the White Sox, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter).
- Chad Qualls (B) and Carl Crawford (A) have declined arbitration, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). Grant Balfour (A) turned down arbitration, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). As anticipated, Randy Choate (B) declined the Rays' offer, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff. ESPN's Buster Olney predicted the decision earlier today. Rafael Soriano (A) will decline the Rays' arbitration offer, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Brad Hawpe (B) will decline the Rays' offer as well, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
- Frank Francisco (A) will accept the Rangers' offer, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
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.
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?
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.
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.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
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...
- 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.
- 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.
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.