Rod Barajas Rumors
Longtime big league backstop Rod Barajas has agreed to manage the Padres' Rookie League club, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. (Twitter links.) Barajas has apparently not officially retired from his playing career, however, and Brock notes that the 38-year-old has not yet ruled out a return to the diamond.
Barajas last saw MLB action in 2012 with the Pirates, serving as the club's primary catcher. After a disappointing campaign -- he posted a .206/.283/.343 line with 11 home runs in 361 plate appearances -- Barajas had his 2013 option declined by Pittsburgh. He signed with the Diamondbacks on a minor league deal, but was ultimately released by Arizona before the start of the season.
Over parts of 14 seasons, Barajas has a lifetime .235/.284/.407 triple-slash and 136 career home runs in 3,784 total plate appearances. He caught at least 97 games for eight of nine seasons over 2004-12.
The Diamondbacks released catcher Rod Barajas, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D'Backs had signed Barajas to a minor league deal in February, but they've decided to go with Wil Nieves as Miguel Montero's backup behind the dish. And, they avoid paying Barajas a $100K retention bonus.
Barajas, 37, hit .206/.283/.343 in 361 plate appearances for the Pirates last year, throwing out only six of the 99 attempted basestealers. His 136 career home runs rank fifth among active catchers.
SUNDAY: The Angels are said to like Chris Snyder and Ramon Hernandez with ex-Angel Bobby Wilson, in camp with the Yankees, an interesting possibility, tweets Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez adds Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves, both with the Diamondbacks, and Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, both with the Royals, as other possibilities.
FRIDAY: The Angels "have been out looking for a backup catcher," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
The team entered the spring hoping that former high-end prospect Hank Conger would lay claim to the back-up spot behind starter Chris Iannetta. As Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times explored back in February, the team was also considering two journeymen, John Hester and Luke Carlin. Still young at 25 and offering a natural complement to Iannetta's right-handed bat, Conger seemed the obvious choice if he could move past his history of inconsistency and injury.
Despite Conger's excellent start on the offensive side of the plate this spring, however, he has struggled behind the dish. While manager Mike Scioscia has previously expressed confidence that Conger would rein in his wildness in the throwing game, Conger made three errors with his arm last Sunday. Entering his final option year, the Angels could elect to allow Conger to work out his issues back in Triple-A Salt Lake. For their part, Hester and Carlin have limited track records at the major league level and are sporting anemic batting lines in pre-season action.
If the Halos are unwilling to let Conger test his arm in a real game, the club may be looking at limited options for an upgrade. A glance at MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker reveals Matt Treanor as the lone unsigned, free agent backstop. Barring a more significant trade, the Angels could consider dealing (or scouring the waiver wire) for a more established option as teams like the Diamondbacks and Rockies decide which of their veteran catching options will make their opening day rosters.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
FEBRUARY 10th: The Diamondbacks officially announced the signing of Barajas to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training (Twitter link).
FEBRUARY 8th: The Diamondbacks have signed catcher Rod Barajas, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (Twitter links). The MVP Sports Group client obtains a minor league deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). He'll earn $800K if he makes the MLB team, according to Piecoro. Barajas began his career with the Diamondbacks, playing in Arizona from 1999-2003.
Barajas spent the 2012 season with the Pirates and posted a .206/.283/.343 batting line with 11 home runs in 361 plate appearances. The right-handed hitting 37-year-old has a history of providing some power from behind the plate, having reached double figures in home runs in eight of the past nine seasons. Barajas didn't surface in offseason rumors after the Pirates declined his 2013 option in late October.
Piecoro suggests Barajas will likely compete with Wil Nieves for playing time behind Miguel Montero. Matt Treanor is now the lone free agent catcher who spent significant time at the MLB level in 2012.
The Pirates have exercised their 2013 club option for Pedro Alvarez and declined for Rod Barajas, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). The team also released southpaw Hisanori Takahashi.
Alvarez will earn $700K next season and would have remained under team control as a pre-arbitration eligible player had Pittsburgh declined the option. Barajas, 37, hit .206/.283/.343 with 11 homers this year and will receive no buyout rather than a $3.5MM salary. Takahashi, 37, was due to hit free agency so his release is just procedural. He pitched to a 5.54 ERA in 50 1/3 innings split between the Angels and Pirates in 2012.
The Pirates hold a $3.5MM option on Rod Barajas for 2013, but should they decline it, the catcher says that he would be willing to take less to stay in Pittsburgh, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Barajas is making $4MM this season and the option for next year doesn't call for a buyout if it's not exercised.
" I would like to be back here," the 37-year-old said. "If that means we have to try to figure something out, then absolutely."
The Pirates have not approached Barajas about whether they will pick up his option or if they'll look to negotiate a new deal. General Manager Neal Huntington did not rule out Barajas returning in 2013 but also cautioned that the club is "not ready to commit to anything" at the moment.
Pittsburgh could turn to a pair of internal options - Michael McKenry and 2009 first-round pick Tony Sanchez - to fill in at catcher next season should they choose to look elsewhere. Barajas is hitting just .197/.269/.324 with nine homers in 324 plate appearances this year.
10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Giants won't offer arbitration to Pat Burrell (B) or Cody Ross (B) according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Carlos Beltran (A) contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Dodgers declined to offer Hiroki Kuroda (B) arbitration, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter). Rod Barajas (B) already signed with the Pirates.
- The Pirates offered arbitration to Derrek Lee (B) while declining to offer Ryan Ludwick (B) and Chris Snyder (B) arbitration. Ryan Doumit (B) already signed with the Twins.
- The Phillies did not offer Roy Oswalt (A) or Brad Lidge (B) arbitration, according to the AP (via ESPN). The team announced that it offered arbitration to Raul Ibanez (B), Ryan Madson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), and Jimmy Rollins (A), according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Cubs offered arbitration to Carlos Pena (B) and Aramis Ramirez (B) but not to Kerry Wood (B), according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Cardinals offered Edwin Jackson (B) and Albert Pujols (A) arbitration, but declined to make offers to Rafael Furcal (B) and Arthur Rhodes (B), according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). That leaves Octavio Dotel (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary).
- The Mets offered Jose Reyes (A) arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
- The Padres will offer arbitration to Heath Bell (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Aaron Harang (B), tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.
- The Brewers offered Prince Fielder (A) and Francisco Rodriguez (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) arbitration. They declined to offer Yuniesky Betancourt (B) arbitration. Takashi Saito (A), contractually cannot be offered arbitration.
- The Braves did not offer arbitration to Alex Gonzalez (B), according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Teams with automatic decisions only:
- Reds: Francisco Cordero (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary), Ramon Hernandez (modified B, no arbitration offer necessary)
- Astros: Clint Barmes (B, already signed with Pirates)
- Rockies: Mark Ellis (B, already signed with Dodgers)
The Pirates provided fans around baseball with some midseason excitement before fading in August and September and finishing with a 72-90 mark. GM Neal Huntington knows the next step is sustaining success into September and beyond, but getting there is a definite challenge. Here are some updates on Huntington’s Pirates from the Milwaukee GM Meetings...
- The Pirates moved quickly on Rod Barajas because they believe he can add power and work with the Pittsburgh pitching staff at an affordable price, Huntington said.
- Plus, the Pirates considered the catching market to be "very weak." They recently signed Barajas to a one-year, $4MM deal that includes a club option for 2013.
- The Pirates may discuss a new deal with Ronny Cedeno and his representatives, Peter E. Greenberg & Associates. Pittsburgh declined its $3MM option on the shortstop after the World Series, making him a free agent. The Pirates also appear to have interest in Ramon Santiago.
Here's a look at a few items out of the American League West..
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has no intentions to trade Felix Hernandez and the organization plans to build around the 25-year-old right-hander, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Angels called to express interest in Rod Barajas after he had already committed to the Pirates, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Angels announced that former big leaguer Hal Morris has agreed to terms on a multi-year contract to become the team's director of pro scouting, writes Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. After retiring as a player Morris scouted amateur players from 2008-2009 for the Pirates before joining the Red Sox in 2010.
The Astros are likely to leave the NL Central after the 2012 season. Here's the latest on some teams that are staying in the division...
- Seven or eight teams, including the Reds, have inquired on free agent closer Francisco Cordero, agent Bean Stringfellow told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Cordero is interested in returning to the Reds on a multiyear deal.
- The Cubs announced that Shiraz Rehman joined their front office as an assistant to GM Jed Hoyer. The 34-year-old spent six seasons with the Diamondbacks after interning with Hoyer, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox in 2005. He'll provide Hoyer with scouting and statistical information for possible acquisitions and coordinate the Cubs' technological efforts.
- Compensation talks between the Cubs and Red Sox for Theo Epstein are progressing amicably, Epstein told Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I know I’m right, because I know my own faults better than Ben does," Epstein said. "I know my limitations. I’m just not worth that much. But I’m sure it will work out, one way or the other, in a way that satisfies all the parties involved."
- The Cubs will conduct a second round of managerial interviews, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin are the candidates for the position.
- The Pirates checked in on Josh Willingham and Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Pittsburgh has Pedro Alvarez at third and Alex Presley in the outfield, but the team appears to be considering depth options at those positions.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington jokes that he has tried to forget the 2008 trade that sent Jason Bay to Boston, according to Speier. The Pirates obtained Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris in a deal that Huntington considers his worst trade ever.
- Rod Barajas told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he had offers from other teams before signing with the Pirates. He'll be the primary catcher in Pittsburgh, which figured in to his decision.