Rod Barajas Rumors
The Pirates announced that they signed catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year deal that includes a team option for 2013. Barajas will earn a $4MM salary in 2012 and the option would pay him another $3.5MM in 2013, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). There's no buyout on the option, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Icon Sports Group represents the 36-year-old backstop.
Barajas spent the 2011 season with the Dodgers and he posted a .230/.287/.430 line with 16 home runs. Los Angeles will obtain a compensatory pick in the 2012 draft for losing Barajas, a Type B free agent. However, Pittsburgh won’t have to surrender any draft choices. The Pirates, who declined their team options for Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit earlier this offseason, obtain a catcher with above-average power and below-average on-base skills in Barajas (the average MLB catcher hit .244/.312/.388 in 2011).
- Dan Hayes of the North County Times cites a Padres team source who doubts that Aaron Harang will be back with the team in 2012 (Twitter link). Hayes says that right now, it's not clear if Harang's $5MM mutual option was rejected by either side yet.
- The Diamondbacks are expected to exercise their half of the mutual options they hold on Willie Bloomquist and Henry Blanco, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times notes that the Dodgers lead the Majors with 10 pending free agents. Dilbeck says that the club is looking to go young behind the plate next year, and doesn't expect to offer arbitration to Type B free agent Rod Barajas.
On this day in 1978, the Dodgers clinched the NLCS on Bill Russell's walkoff single in the 10th inning of Game Four. It was the 19th National League pennant for the Dodgers' franchise, though the club would lose the World Series to the Yankees.
Some news from the modern-day Dodgers...
- GM Ned Colletti broke down the Dodgers' roster and offseason plans in an interview with ESPN's Jim Bowden. Colletti reiterated that signing Matt Kemp to a multiyear extension was "a priority" and extending Clayton Kershaw would also be explored through without as much urgency since Kershaw is under control through 2014. Colletti said he "would entertain" locking up Andre Ethier as well, and though he noted that Ethier is "coming off an injury and a subpar season," the GM also said that Ethier isn't a candidate to be dealt.
- Hiroki Kuroda "is an extremely loyal person to both the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles and really doesn't want to play anywhere else," Colletti said. He noted that Kuroda's daughters go to school in L.A. and the right-hander has bought a house in town.
- Colletti also noted that the Dodgers would "probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the [catching] duties" next season. As Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times notes, this would mean the team won't bring back Rod Barajas, who last month said he hoped to finish his career in Dodger blue.
- Barring a surprise signing of Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, Mike Petriello of the Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness blog wonders where the Dodgers will find their desired middle-of-the-order bat this winter.
- A bankruptcy judge has ruled that the Dodgers will not be able to obtain information from MLB's 29 other teams, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Frank McCourt and his attorneys have stated that the Dodgers were being treated differently by Major League Baseball than other teams and were looking for documentation to prove this alleged double standard.
Clayton Kershaw leads the league in ERA, strikeouts and wins. Matt Kemp leads the league in RBI and isn't far off in home runs (second) and batting average (third). We can debate the value of the traditional Triple Crown stats, but there's no denying that the Dodgers have serious contenders for the NL Cy Young and MVP. The latest links from Los Angeles...
- Earlier in the season, the Dodgers' decision to non-tender Russell Martin and sign Rod Barajas seemed like a mistake, but as Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times shows, the two backstops have comparable offensive numbers. Martin maintains a 35 point edge in OBP, but Barajas has the superior OPS+ (96 vs. 91). Barajas, a free agent after the season, told Hernandez that he hopes to return to Los Angeles next year.
- Hiroki Kuroda will obtain $175K for having pitched 190 innings and if he completes four more innings to reach the 200 inning plateau, he'll obtain $200K more, according to Hernandez.
- Juan Rivera has hit well since the Dodgers acquired him from the Blue Jays and manager Don Mattingly says he should be a consideration in 2012, according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. Rivera would like to re-sign with the Dodgers and his skipper likes his versatility and power, so the sides figure to discuss a deal after the season.
Rod Barajas hopes to play the rest of his career with the Dodgers, the catcher told Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. However, Dilbeck says the Dodgers are considering going cheap behind the plate next year with a tandem of Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis.
Federowicz will be a 24-year-old rookie next year, while Ellis will be a 31-year-old with less than a hundred games in the Majors. Typically teams prefer someone more seasoned as the backup, although Ellis did catch 515 games across nine minor league seasons.
Barajas, 36, has played to expectations after signing for $3.25MM in December. His standard good power/low on-base line comes to .236/.289/.445 in 289 plate appearances this year. Barajas noted that his comfort level is playing four or five times a week, which probably leaves more than 60 starts for the other catcher. Barajas has earned approximately $12.5MM in his career, and one way to increase his chances of staying with the Dodgers would be to drop his asking price by a few million dollars.
As Dilbeck notes, letting Barajas leave could be a way for the Dodgers to save $3MM this offseason. The Icon Sports Group client projects as a Type B free agent, but I wouldn't expect the Dodgers to offer unless they want Barajas around next year.
You stay classy, San Diego! Here are some items about the Friars...
- The Padres were known to be looking for a platoon partner for the newly-acquired Brad Hawpe at first base, and SI's Jon Heyman tweets that Jorge Cantu and Troy Glaus are candidates, though either is a "remote possibility." Heyman reported last month that the Padres were looking at Cantu and Glaus for their first base opening, and both still make sense given that Hawpe has only played nine games at first in his career.
- In an MLB.com mailbag, Corey Brock writes that San Diego wanted to pick up another veteran catcher this winter, but John Buck's three-year, $18MM deal with Florida raised the price on the entire catching market. For instance, the Padres thought they had a good chance to sign free agent Rod Barajas, who ended up signing a surprisingly high $3.25MM deal with the Dodgers.
- From that same mailbag, Brock says San Diego is looking to add a left-handed bat to come off the bench.
The Dodgers have re-signed catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year contract, according to a team press release. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) reports that the deal is worth $3.25MM. That's some nice work from agent Dan Lozano given that the catcher had to settle for a $500K minor league contract from the Mets last February.
Barajas, 35, excelled in 72 plate appearances after the Dodgers acquired him for the stretch run. He had three hits, including a homer, in his first game as a Dodger and batted .297/.361/.578 overall. He doesn't reach base often, as his career .284 on base percentage shows, but he has some power.
Barajas, who drew interest from the Red Sox earlier in the offseason, is one of many catchers Los Angeles considered, particularly given yesterday's non-tender of Russell Martin, The Dodgers would not have obtained compensation for losing Barajas (a Type B free agent) to another team, since they did not offer arbitration.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk contributed to this post
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?
With Victor Martinez and John Buck off the market, the Red Sox are turning their attention to "a number of catching contingencies" including free agent Rod Barajas, reports FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Barajas would presumably share time with, or be a veteran backup for, Jarrod Saltalamacchia in Boston.
Barajas hit .240/.284/.447 in 339 plate appearances with the Mets and Dodgers in 2010, including a .939 OPS with Los Angeles after he was claimed on waivers in late August. The 35-year-old gained some AL East experience playing in Toronto in 2008-09 and is known for a strong throwing arm behind the plate. Barajas has thrown out 32% of baserunners trying to steal on him over his 12-year career, though as Morosi pointed out, that percentage dipped to 15% last season.
Boston tried to acquire Barajas from the Mets in July to fill in for their many injured catchers. Barajas' solid power numbers should earn him a bigger contract than the $500K guaranteed deal he signed with New York last February, though he would still be a relatively cheap pickup for the Sox.