Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Catcher


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.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.