Tag: Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas retires, goes into managing


Rod Barajas has officially called it a career after 14 seasons in the majors, but he’s not going to be out of work: Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the 37-year-old longtime catcher has already accepted a new job as the Padres’ rookie-ball manager.

Last season Barajas was released by the Diamondbacks during spring training, with Arizona opting for Wil Nieves to back up Miguel Montero.

Barajas combined plus power with horrendous plate discipline, hitting .235 with 136 homers and a .691 OPS–including a .284 on-base percentage–in 1,114 games for seven different teams.

Diamondbacks release Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas

Arizona offered Rod Barajas the backup catcher job in December and when he turned it down the Diamondbacks signed Wil Nieves instead.

Barajas eventually ended up taking a minor-league from the Diamondbacks anyway, but today they released him. That means Nieves will be Miguel Montero’s backup and Barajas will have to go looking for another minor-league deal, as Arizona cut him loose to avoid paying a $100,000 bonus for agreeing to a Triple-A assignment.

Barajas can’t really throw any more and has always made a ton of outs, but he still has enough power to be a not-horrible veteran backup at age 37.

Miguel Montero returns from thumb infection

miguel montero getty

Miguel Montero missed two games with what was initially called a splinter in his thumb, but when the Diamondbacks’ training staff couldn’t actually find a splinter they diagnosed him with an infection.

Whatever the case, Montero is back in the lineup today and joked with Steve Gilbert of MLB.com that he returned quickly to avoid being Wally Pipp’d.

I guess that would make either Wil Nieves or Rod Barajas the Lou Gehrig in that scenario, which … well, I’m sure everyone is happy to have Montero back in the lineup.

Diamondbacks sign catcher Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas

Back in early December the Diamondbacks offered Rod Barajas their backup catcher job and he apparently turned it down, because they ended up re-signing Wil Nieves instead.

Two months later Barajas remains a free agent and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have signed him after all. He gets a minor-league deal worth $800,000 if he makes the team.

So now Barajas and Nieves will compete to back up Miguel Montero, which is a pretty good gig for a veteran catcher considering Montero started 125 and 127 games during the past two seasons.

The Mariners think they’re getting better, but probably aren’t

Jason Bay

In Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik’s defense, he did aim high, pulling off a deal for Arizona’s Justin Upton that was negated by the right fielder’s no-trade clause. However, the moves that he’s actually completed this winter to aid the offense don’t bode particularly well for the Mariners’ 2013 hopes.

– Traded OF Trayvon Robinson to the Orioles for INF Robert Andino

– Traded LHP Jason Vargas to the Angels for DH/1B Kendrys Morales

– Signed DH/LF Jason Bay to a one-year, $500,000 contract

– Signed DH/LF/1B Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $2.75 million contract

– Traded C John Jaso to the Athletics for DH/1B/LF Michael Morse in a three-team deal with the Nationals

These transactions completely contradict the defense-first strategy that made Franklin Gutierrez a prized early addition for Zduriencik and has led to Brendan Ryan’s continued employment. Ibanez and Morse are two of the game’s very worst outfielders, and Morales has played 28 games at first base since suffering his devastating leg injury in 2010.

Also an issue: none of these guys are particularly outstanding hitters. Morales is certainly pretty good and Morse did have the big 2011. However, in 2012, all of these guys finished with OPSs under .800 (Morales and Morse just barely). Jaso outhit all of them by batting .276/.394/.456 in his 294 at-bats as a platoon player last season.

It’s also worth noting that none of these guys are necessarily long-termers. Morales and Morse are both free agents next winter. Morales turns 30 in June, while Morse turns 31 in March. Neither is exactly over the hill, but the risk would outweigh the potential reward in giving either a multiyear extension.

Jaso, on the other hand, is three years away from free agency.

But this isn’t really about Jaso, who likely played over his head last year and is a pretty poor defensive catcher. It’s about the Mariners seemingly playing next season at the expense of the long haul without really improving themselves for 2013.

– With Morales, Morse, Ibanez and possibly Bay cluttering up the first base, left field and DH spots, there’s no room for Justin Smoak, Mike Carp or Eric Thames anywhere. Now, Smoak has had his chances, Carp has struggled to stay healthy and can’t help defensively and Thames probably isn’t going to hit enough to overcome his poor glove. But there’s still some upside there. Morse didn’t have his first promising half-season until 28. For Ibanez, it came at 29. Smoak, Carp and Thames are all 26 at the moment.

– The presence of those veterans also figures to put Jesus Montero back behind the plate fairly regularly, even though it’s obvious now that 2012 first-round pick Mike Zunino is the team’s catcher of the future. The Mariners are just delaying the inevitable, which is that Montero is going to end up as a first baseman or a DH. And they’re going to have a crappy defensive catcher while they’re at it. Worse, they’ll probably end up signing a non-entity like Rod Barajas to pair with Montero.

– The pitching has gotten worse with Vargas’ departure. The Mariners did manage to re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma to a club-friendly two-year deal, so they dodged that bullet. Still, he’s not an ideal No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez, and behind him are promising sophomore Erasmo Ramirez and the homer-prone Blake Beavan. None of the team’s top pitching prospects figure to be ready to make an impact early on this season. If the season started tomorrow, Hector Noesi would likely be the fifth starter.

Of course, the winter isn’t done. The Mariners could still sign Michael Bourn to replace Gutierrez (not recommended) or maybe Kyle Lohse to serve as the No. 2 starter. They could try another trade to improve the offense (Jacoby Ellsbury? David DeJesus?). As is, it’s hard to imagine them contending in an AL West with a top three that averaged 92 wins last year (the Mariners were 75-87). And if they don’t, it doesn’t seem at all likely that Zduriencik will get another chance in 2013.