Catching Movements: Olivo, Schneider, Shoppach, Mauer, Diaz and More

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The Royals declined to offer C-Miguel Olivo arbitration today.  This hardly comes as a shock to anyone, but there has been plenty of news surrounding other catchers the last several days.  Since the Kansas City clearly has a need at the position every one of these moves or rumors can have an impact on the organization’s plans.

The Philadelphia Phillies signed 33 year old C-Brian Schneider to a two year contract today.  He will earn $1.25 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in 2011.  He spent the 2009 season with the Mets and hit 0.218/.292/.335 with an OPS+ of 67.  Offensively, it was his worst season in the majors since his rookie year back in 2000 with Montreal.  Schneider now has 10 ML seasons under his belt with a career line of 0.251/.323/.374 with 296 BB and 451 SO in 2,826 AB.  He also threw out 34% of runners trying to steal in 2009, which was right in line with his career mark of 38%.

It’s older news, but on November 16th, the Cincinnati Reds signed 33 year old C-Ramon Hernandez to a 1 year $3 million deal that includes a 2011 option.  The option year will kick in if he plays in 120 or more games next season.  In case you are curious, he hit 0.258/.336/.362 with 33 BB and 34 SO in 287 AB.  Aside from the dip in SLG and an improvment in his BB to SO rate, the rest of his numbers were similar to his 11 years career averages of 0.262/.327/.417.

The Rays have worked out a deal to acquire 29 year old C-Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for a PTBNL.  He had a breakout season in 2008 hitting 21 HR in only 352 AB to go along with a slash line of 0.261/.348/.517.  2009 saw him regress to 0.214/.335/.399, but in reality he is an excellent bounce back candidate for 2010.  Shoppach has a career line of 0.241/.327/.449, which along with his age, suggests that his offensive performance will settle somewhere between 2009 and 2010.  He made $1.95 million with the Indians last season and shouldn’t get much of a raise in arbitration this offseason.  Due to the addition of Shoppach, 25 year old C-Dioner Navarro may be on his way out.  Dioner had struggles of his own in 2009 hitting just 0.218/.261/.322 but like Shoppach figures to rebound in 2010.  After making $2.1 million last season, Navarro is entering his 2nd year of arbitration.

Tampa Bay also offered 38 year old, Type B free agent, C-Gregg Zaun arbitration today.  Since the team traded for Shoppach earlier in the day, this move was all about getting a compensation pick when he signs elsewhere.  He made $1.5 million last year while hitting 0.260/.345/.416 in 262 AB between Baltimore and Tampa Bay. The team spent $500,000 to buyout his $2 million club option back on November 9th.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced yesterday that they have re-signed 35 year old C-Jason LaRue to a 1 year contract worth $950,000.  He hit 0.240/.288/.327  in 104 AB for the team in 2009.

According to Yahoo Sports, Joe Mauer has set a deadline for working out a contract extension with the Minnesota Twins.  His Opening Day deadline shouldn’t worry Twins fans in the least, especially considering the team wants to have a deal worked out by Christmas.  Of course it depends on who you believe since Mauer, via a text with Star Tribune writer La Velle E. Neal III, seemingly goes against the Yahoo Sports report.  One thing we do know is that the 2009 AL MVP has hired a new “off the field” agent to handle his marketing and endorsements.  Want more Mauer?  Back in mid-November he did a Q&A with Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.

So where do the Royals find themselves after all of this?  They still have Brayan Pena in the mix and they still have a big decision to make regarding John Buck.  Assuming Buck is nontendered, the team needs to find a catcher somewhere.  Dioner Navarro is someone I’d take a look at acquiring, but I’ve always overvalued him so that reaction comes more from my heart than my head.  Since he doesn’t fit into the “cheap 0-3″ class of player, he probably isn’t on the team’s radar.

A player who should be on the radar, especially if there was any truth to the alleged interest in Dodgers AAA catcher A.J. Ellis, is 25 year old Robinzon Diaz.  The Pirates gave Diaz his unconditional release yesterday after he cleared waivers.  He hit 0.279/0307/.357 in 129 AB for Pittsburgh last season.  He made his ML debut in 2008 appearing in 1 game for the Blue Jays and then 2 games for the Pirates after turning into the PTBNL in the deal that sent Jose Bautista to Toronto.  He threw out only 25% of would be base stealers and allowed 7 PB in his limited time behind the plate last season, so he may be a clone of Buck and or Olivo defensively, but even so he’s worth the risk.  Diaz has a career line in the minors of 0.301/.338/.388 with little power but he does seem to have decent plate discipline.  Again if they have true interest in Ellis, than Diaz is a smarter move.  He’s two and a half years younger, and hasn’t spent as much time in an offensively inflated environment like Ellis has.

In closing, a minor league team with a cool name deserves a cool logo.  Hats off to the Richmond Flying Squirrels!

(Wally Fish is Kings of Kauffman’s lead blogger.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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Tags: A.J. Ellis AL Central Baseball Brayan Pena Brian Schneider Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Indians Dioner Navarro Gregg Zaun Jason LaRue Joe Mauer John Buck Kansas City Royals KC Kelly Shoppach Los Angeles Dodgers Miguel Olivo Minnesota Twins MLB Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates Ramon Hernandez Robinzon Diaz Royals St. Louis Cardinals Tampa Bay Rays

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