Minnesota has avoided arbitration with backup catcher Drew Butera by signing him to a one-year, $700,000 deal.
Butera is perhaps the worst hitter in baseball, batting .183 with a .497 OPS in 184 career games, but the Twins are in love with his defense and have kept him on the roster for three seasons as a second- and third-string catcher.
Giving him a big-league roster spot and job are very much debatable decisions, but Butera was arbitration eligible for the first time and basically gets the lowest possible jump in salary. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit are expected to once again alternate between catcher and designated hitter, leaving Butera to soak up whatever playing time behind the plate remains.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”
Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.