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.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.