In a trio of expected moves the Pirates have declined their 2012 options on left-hander Paul Maholm, catcher Chris Snyder, and catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit.
Maholm was due $9.75 million and has failed to develop into more than a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter at age 29, so Pittsburgh will instead give him a $750,000 buyout.
Snyder was due $6.75 million, but missing the final three-and-half months of the season following back surgery made choosing a $750,000 buyout a no-brainer move for the Pirates.
Doumit’s deal had 2012 and 2013 options totaling $15.5 million, compared to a $500,000 buyout. Pittsburgh tried to unload his contract during spring training and he played just 77 games this season, but hit well when healthy with a .303 batting average and .830 OPS in 77 games.
Maholm should be able to find a multi-year contract on the open market, but Snyder will likely have to settle for a one-year deal to prove that he’s healthy and still capable of being a starting catcher. Doumit’s defense behind the plate may keep him from landing a full-time catching job, but he could interest AL teams as a catcher/outfielder/designated hitter.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.