Rays retain Navarro despite Shoppach trade

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Dioner Navarro was thought to be a likely non-tender candidate following the Rays’ trade for Kelly Shoppach, but instead the two sides have agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract that will keep him in Tampa Bay.
It remains to be seen how the Rays plan to divvy up the playing behind the plate after Navarro started at least 100 games in each of the past three seasons, but Shoppach’s presence and likely higher salary make it clear that the incumbent won’t approach triple-digit starts in 2010 after batting just .218/.261/.322 for the worst OPS of any AL hitter with 400-plus plate appearances.
Navarro is a switch-hitter who’s been significantly better against right-handers and Shoppach is a right-handed hitter who’s been significantly better against left-handers, so they would form a pretty nifty platoon. However, given that Shoppach’s career OPS tops Navarro’s lifetime mark by nearly 100 points it seems likely the Rays will give the newcomer every opportunity to claim primary catching duties, potentially making Navarro an expensive backup or trade bait.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.