More on Barajas signing

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

In case you haven’t already heard, the Pirates, today, announced that they have signed veteran catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year deal worth $4 million. The contract includes a $3.5 million option with no buyout. You can read the full story here, which includes comments from Barajas and GM Neal Huntington, as well as a look at how this affects the Pirates’ catching situation and offseason pursuits.

I wanted to add a few extra thoughts regarding the signing, so I’ll outline those here:

  • One thing worth noting is that the Pirates went after a catcher that they did not have to make a long-term committment to. With Tony Sanchez getting closer to the Majors, the Pirates certainly did not want to block his path by committing to a veteran catcher for several years. The Barajas deal buys the Pirates time by covering the 2012 season and gives the club an option for 2013 in case Sanchez still isn’t ready. In this respect, the length of the contract seems ideal.
  • Huntington noted that the club felt like it had to be aggressive as soon as the free agent market opened in order to address the team’s catching needs. I’ve noted several times already that the catching market is a weak one, and that certainly justified the need for the Pirates to strike quickly. Often times, you’ll find that it takes the top tier of free agents signing before the rest of the market falls into place. The Pirates got out in front of that.
  • In scanning through Barajas’ career numbers, what first stood out to me was the fact that he has started 100 games behind the plate only once in the past six seasons. That’s not exactly what you’d expect to see in an everyday catcher. Huntington acknowledged that Barajas is not coming in to start 130-140 games. But the Pirates believe that having Barajas catch 100-110 games is sufficient with the backup options already on this club.
  • Who are those backup options? Jason Jaramillo and Michael McKenry were the two that Huntington named on Thursday. Matt Pagnozzi would seem to be another. Huntington did not rule out looking externally for another catcher, but I don’t expect to see much movement there. The club has too many other holes to fill to keep catching as a priority.
  • Huntington also would not officially close the door on Ryan Doumit or Chris Snyder returning. I just can’t see a scenario in which either returns. Ironically, shortly before the Barajas announcement came through, I talked to a source who said that there was a lot of interest in Doumit among other teams and that there was very little chance he’d return to Pittsburgh. Now, those chances have to be zero. Doumit is looking for a starting job and should be able to find more playing time and dollars elsewhere.
  • This will likely change before the start of Spring Training, but Barajas — a 36-year-old catcher — is currently the Pirates’ highest-paid player.

Though the Pirates have addressed their catching needs, lots of holes remain. Finding a first baseman and shortstop remain atop the position player needs.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

1 Comment

How close is Sanchez really? He had an extremely bad year last year. I originally expected him to debut in 2012 but am not sure now.

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