Huzzah! The short on excitement Toronto Blue Jays free agent campaign is now under way. Today we’ll look at the catchers wish list.
AA has made it pretty clear in numerous interviews that the club has a long term perspective when it comes to competing in the AL East. This loosely translates into:
A) Let Barajas & Scutaro walk for the incoming Draft Picks
B) Avoid signing any Type A free agents for fear of losing a draft pick
C) Sign cheap FA’s to short-term contracts
Here are five players that fit this criteria. And away we go:
The big, no huge, knock on Bard is his ability to control an opposing teams running game. While 2009 was his best season in this regard (27.1% caught stealing) opponents attempted 59 steals in just 71 Bard starts. His only season above 100 games played, 2007, watched opponents swipe 121 bags vs only 10 caught.
Bard is a switch hitter that hasn’t really hit. He made $1.6 million in 2009 and is really just a warm body. Pass
Ramon Castro as the 2010 starting catcher? Have we really sunk this low? Perhaps. Castro has some surprising offensive numbers (when looking at a three year combined OPS). His three combined OPS is .777 in just a shade under 500 plate appearances. .811 vs left, .760 vs right. His combined power numbers are 21 doubles and 25 HR. Unfortunately this three year combination includes a subpar 2009 (.219 batting average)
Last season Castro had a good year defensively for two teams (mets, white sox). Over 52 games with the Mets & White Sox Castro threw out 35% of base stealers and allowed no passed balls.
His 2009 salary was $2.625 million. He’s 33 and will turn 34 on before opening day. If the Jays can sign Castro on the cheap (and short-term) he might be worth a look.
Signing Olivo is a stretch. He will be the most coveted FA catcher and thus fails criteria C (sign on the cheap). Still, he’s a decent option with good power. His OPS has risen in each of the past three seasons (.667, .722, .781). Last year he hit 23 HR in just over 400 PA, all while playing in a tough home run hitters park in KC. His road OPS was .825. On the down side he hasn’t cracked a .300 OBP in each of the past three seasons. Last year he struck out 126 times vs only 19 walks. At 31 Olivo will most likely command a three – four year contract, which may be too long for the Jays.
Not much of an option here. His three year combined OPS was .660 (in about 575 PA). This included only 1 HR. On the plus side he hit .278 and walked 34 times vs 53 SO. For a team that employs the hit and run with regularity he might have some value. Of course this would require Cito to walk up from his gamely nap.
For his career Redmond has thrown out 29.5% of would be base stealers. Last season was by far his worst from that standpoint, allowing 12.5% caught. He’s 38 and will turn 39 during the 2010 season. His salary was $950,000.
While he’s an option, I expect the Jays to pass on Redmond.
Zaun with pretty boy Callum:
Zaun would be a great fit for the Jays. He should come relatively cheaply (couple mill, if that, as the Rays declined a $2 million club option), has a good track record of consistency (.700+ OPS every season since 2004), can platoon vs RHP and knows a good portion of the staff. He’s a type B FA and thus won’t cost the Jays.
Wish List rankings: