Yorvit Torrealba Rumors

Blue Jays Acquire Yorvit Torrealba

5:34pm: The Blue Jays announced that they have signed Torrealba to a minor league deal. 

2:42pm:  Veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba, placed on release waivers last week by the Texas Rangers, is close to joining the Toronto Blue Jays, a source tells Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).

Torrealba, 34, posted a .236/.302/.342 batting line in 182 plate appearances for Texas before being designated for assignment earlier this month.

Quick Hits: Trout, Tigers, Marlins, Rockies

The Cubs were scheduled to play the first ever night game at Wrigley Field on this date 24 years ago, but the game was rained out, so it wasn't until the next day that the Cubs officially welcomed night baseball to the North Side of Chicago. Here are today's links, as the Cubs visit the Padres in San Diego…

  • MLB executives discussed a possible Mike Trout extension with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (link at ESPN.com). Trout could break records as an arbitration eligible player if he continues playing at an MVP level, so it might be surprisingly expensive for the Angels to lock the 21-year-old up.
  • Tigers manager Jim Leyland gives president and GM Dave Dombrowski a ‘gold star’ for his work acquiring Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Jeff Baker, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports. Leyland’s top priority was a pitcher, so getting Infante in the same trade as Sanchez was a bonus. “When it worked out that we got both of them at the same time, that was pretty good," the manager said.
  • The Marlins will be willing to spend this offseason, but they’ll do so carefully, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Team president David Samson says the Marlins aim to remain competitive, despite their disappointing 2012 season. “We’re not rebuilding, we’re retooling,” he said. For more of his comments on the team click here.
  • The Rockies have some interest in Yorvit Torrealba, who was recently placed on release waivers, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). However, it’s not clear how he’d fit on the Rockies with both Ramon Hernandez and Wilin Rosario healthy.

Rangers To Release Yorvit Torrealba

The Rangers have placed catcher Yorvit Torrealba on release waivers, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports. The Rangers designated Torrealba for assignment last week after acquiring Geovany Soto from Chicago, and were unable to trade him. If no team claims Torrealba, he'll receive his unconditional release. 

Torrealba, 34, posted a .236/.302/.342 batting line in 182 plate appearances for Texas before getting designated for assignment. He has prevented 23% of stolen base attempts this year, down from his career rate of 30%. The Nationals reportedly had interest in Torrealba last month, but Washington has since acquired Kurt Suzuki.

AL West Links: Millwood, Lee, Athletics

Daniel Straily will make his Major League debut tonight in Oakland, starting for the A's against the Blue Jays.  Straily was an unheralded minor league arm heading into 2012 but exploded to lead the minor leagues with 175 strikeouts in 138 1/3 combined innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, plus a 2.60 ERA and a 4.73 K/BB ratio. 

Here are some more items from around the AL West…

  • The Mariners weren't eager to move Kevin Millwood at the trade deadline and put a "very high price tag" on the veteran starter, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
  • Though the Rangers asked the Phillies about Cliff Lee before the trade deadline, Texas didn't put in a waiver claim on the left-hander, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  The Dodgers were awarded the claim on Lee earlier today.  Lee would've had to pass unclaimed through every NL team and every AL team except the Yankees for Texas to win their claim, had they submitted one.
  • With Kurt Suzuki now in Washington, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks the Athletics could be in the market for a veteran catcher.  Slusser (Twitter links) suggests the A's could look at the likes of Yorvit Torrealba and Ramon Hernandez in waiver deals, as catchers are easier to find right now than shortstops, another of Oakland's needs.

Rangers Designate Torrealba For Assignment; Nats Interested

11:45am: The Nationals and Rangers discussed Torrealba, but one person involved told Kilgore “it doesn’t look like a fit.”

TUESDAY, 8:49am: The Rangers and Nationals are expected to discuss Torrealba today, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

MONDAY, 10:25pm: The Rangers have designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). Torrealba became expendable with the acquisition of Geovany Soto.

The Rangers are likely to trade Torrealba, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports. The 34-year-old has a .236/.302/.342 batting line in 182 plate appearances this year.

Giants Have Shown Interest In Yorvit Torrealba

The Giants have scored the fewest runs in baseball in part due to Buster Posey's season-ending injury, so it's not surprising that both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports are reporting that a catcher upgrade is the team's focus right now. They've specifically shown interest in Rangers' backstop Yorvit Torrealba, who started his career in San Francisco.

There are two significant roadblocks to a deal according to the FOX scribes. First, Texas can not seriously consider moving Torrealba until Mike Napoli comes off the disabled list, at the very least. Secondly, the Giants are reluctant to pay the $3.25MM he's owned next season. The Rangers would want a bullpen arm in return, but San Francisco is hesitant to part with any of their relievers other than Guillermo Mota.

Rosenthal and Morosi say that Ivan Rodriguez, Ronny Paulino, and Ramon Hernandez have also been discussed internally by the Giants. The Reds are unikely to part with Hernandez even though Ryan Hanigan gets the majority of the playing time behind the plate.

New York Notes: Wilpon, Sabathia, Torrealba

There seems to be no shortage of on- and off-field baseball news coming out of the Big Apple these days. Here's some of the latest out of New York …

  • High-ranking baseball people are concerned about whether the Wilpons will be able to keep the Mets in the wake of the ongoing Madoff fallout, writes Jon Heyman of SI.com. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, a "friend and ally" of Wilpon's, according to Heyman, will give Wilpon a long leash in sorting through the mess, but some are doubting whether the Wilpons can withstand a loss worth half or even a quarter of the $1 billion that Madoff trustee Irving Picard is seeking.
  • The Yankees may actually benefit if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract after 2011, writes Joe Sheehan of SI.com. Typically, opt-out clauses are considered player-friendly, but because of Sabathia's injury risk due to his body type and age between 2012-15, the Yanks might do well to let Sabathia walk and spend the money elsewhere, according to Sheehan, especially with some promising pitching prospects on the way up. One interesting hypothetical posed by Sheehan: Let Sabathia walk, move Mark Teixeira to full-time DH duties and sign potential free agent Albert Pujols.
  • The Mets won their grievance case with catcher Yorvit Torrealba, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. An arbitrator ruled that the Mets were within their rights to call off a three-year, $14.4MM agreement they had reached with Torrealba following the 2007 season upon conducting a physical which caused them "concerns" about the condition of Torrealba's throwing shoulder.

Catching Rumors: Mets, Rockies, Martin

Victor Martinez, John Buck and, now, Yorvit Torrealba have agreed to deals with new teams. Here's the latest on the market for backstops:

  • The Rockies talked to Torrealba's agent, but only had interest in a one-year deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
  • The Mets also had interest in Torrealba, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
  • Jon Heyman of SI.com says (on Twitter) that the White Sox would happily bring A.J. Pierzynski back. They didn't offer him arbitration because they didn't want to pay him more than $6.75MM in 2011.
  • Matt Colleran, the agent for Russell Martin, told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that the sides have exchanged ideas about reaching a deal before Thursday's non-tender deadline instead of going to arbitraiton. The Dodgers seem reluctant to give the non-tender candidate a significant raise after a disappointing season that Martin finished on the disabled list. Colleran told MLBTR last week that Martin's late-season hip injury did not damage his labrum.

Rangers, Torrealba Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Rangers agreed to sign Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25MM deal that will pay the catcher $3MM in 2011 and $3.25MM in 2012. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported the deal (on Twitter) and Anthony Andro of the Star-Telegram reported the terms of the contract (on Twitter).

Torrealba and his representatives at MDR Sports moved on from the Padres, who offered him arbitration, but not a multi-year deal. San Diego will rely on Nick Hundley to take on a bigger role and obtain a supplementary first round draft pick for losing Torrealba, a Type B free agent.

Torrealba hit .271/.343/.378 in 363 plate appearances last year. He batted more in 2010 than in any year except 2007, the lone season of his career in which he caught 100-plus games. The former Giant and Rockie has a .708 OPS in parts of ten big league seasons.  Tip of the cap to MLBTR's Mark Polishuk, who correctly predicted on November 10th that Torrealba would land with the Rangers.

It seems likely that free agent Bengie Molina will sign elsewhere and that Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden will be candidates to back Torrealba up. Rod Barajas, Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek are among the catchers still available on the free agent market.

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.