Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Catcher

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This is the first in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Kurt Suzuki (Athletics) – I’m starting it off with a couple of long shots. The A’s see Suzuki as a building block, and they’ll probably try to get him signed to a long-term deal this winter. While he’s overrated offensively, he is awfully consistent and his reputation for handling pitchers in sterling. The 26-year-old has drawn the eyes of the Red Sox and other teams previously, but Oakland would want a big haul to move him.
Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks) – Arizona reportedly turned down Boston’s offer of Daniel Bard for Montero before Montero’s breakthrough season last year. The Diamondbacks are a team in need of a shakeup, so no one in the lineup besides Justin Upton is untouchable. Still, the team would clearly prefer to move Chris Snyder instead.
John Buck (Blue Jays) – Now here come the more realistic trade candidates. With a .278 average that’s 40 points better than his career mark and 13 homers in 248 at-bats, Buck has proven to be a nice bargain for the Blue Jays after signing for just $2 million over the winter. Still, he’s a free agent at season’s end and the team may want to give prospect J.P. Arencibia a chance to audition for the starting job next year. There are no contenders desperate for a starting catcher, so Buck could stay. However, the Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers and Angels could consider him if the price is right.
Ryan Doumit (Pirates) – Before Buck entered the picture, it looked like Doumit might be the Blue Jays’ catcher this year. Trade talks broke down, though, and Doumit remained with the Pirates. With 3 1/2 months down, he still has a chance to get through a season completely healthy for the first time. However, he hasn’t helped his stock by hitting a modest .259/.330/.414. A well below average defensive catcher, he wouldn’t seem to be a great fit for any contender at the moment.
Chris Snyder (Diamondbacks) – Fears about how he’d overcome back surgery, combined with a rather significant contract, prevented Snyder from being traded over the winter, but the 29-year-old has returned at 100 percent this year. He’s currently hitting .237/.350/.441 in 186 at-bats for Arizona, and the back held up just fine when he was playing everyday during Montero’s absence. The contract remains an issue: he’s owed $5.75 million next year and then either $6.75 million or a $750,000 buyout in 2012. That’s not a price anyone is going to want to pay for a part-timer, and while Snyder is a capable regular, there just aren’t any many teams looking for a regular at the moment. For that reason, he might stay put.
Chris Iannetta (Rockies) – Iannetta’s struggles to hit for average have set him back in Colorado, but he a fine offensive catcher even while batting .220-.230 and he’s always been solid defensively. The Rockies seem divided on him. He lost playing time to Yorvit Torrealba last year, only to get a three-year contract in the offseason. Then Miguel Olivo was brought in anyway, and Iannetta ended up back in Triple-A for a time this year. The Red Sox are thought to be hot on his trail, and Peter Gammons reported today that the Rockies turned down Boston’s offer of infielder Jed Lowrie for Iannetta. As hot as Iannetta has been recently, the Rockies will probably keep him unless they can get back someone capable of helping them immediately.
Dioner Navarro (Rays) – Navarro looked like one of the league’s better young catchers when he hit .295/.349/.407 for the Rays in 2008, but he came in at .218/.261/.322 last year and he was hitting a similarly pathetic .210/.291/.286 in 105 at-bats this season before getting demoted to Triple-A. He has performed better for Durham, coming in at .268/.404/.415 in 41 at-bats, so it’s possible someone will take a flier. The Rays probably won’t ask for much in return, since his current $2.1 million salary practically guarantees that he’ll be non-tendered in December.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Rangers) – Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden were supposed to split time for the Rangers behind the plate this season, but both have taken huge steps backwards. Salty played in just two games before going on the DL with back spasms, developed Mackey Sasser-like throwing problems while on a rehab assignment and got himself optioned to Triple-A as a result. He did iron out the throwing issue, but after a fast start offensively, he hasn’t hit for Oklahoma City and he’s fallen out of the Rangers’ plans for the rest of this season. Salty appeared to have a world of offensive potential a few years back and he’s still just 25, so he’s not hopeless. However, there probably isn’t any demand for his services right now. He’s more likely to find himself on the move this winter.
Lou Marson (Indians) – When the Indians picked up Marson from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal, they thought they were getting a pretty valuable property, albeit one probably without much of a future in the organization. Sure enough, Carlos Santana has quickly Marson expendable. Marson, though, has seen his value collapse with a dreadful offensive showing in the last 12 months. At this point, he’s looking like more of a pure backup than a player who projected as something close to an average regular a couple of years ago.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.