Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas

Diamondbacks sign catcher Rod Barajas

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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
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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.

2013 Free Agency Tracker

Zack Greinke, Ned Colletti, Magic Johnson
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We’ll be updating this one throughout the offseason. Players are listed based on their ranking in the Top 111 Free Agents. At the bottom is a listing of free agents who signed before the ranking came out, and we’ll be adding signings of players who didn’t make the top 111 as they come in.

(Update: I’ve added non-tendered players to the Top 111 below, with ** indicating the new players).

Re-signings are posted in red, while players signing with new teams get blue.

1. Josh Hamilton (OF Rangers): Angels – 5 yrs, $125 mil
2. Zack Greinke (RHP Angels): Dodgers – 6 yrs, $147 mil
3. Anibal Sanchez (RHP Tigers): Tigers – 5 yrs, $80 mil + option
4. B.J. Upton (OF Rays): Braves – 5 yrs, $75.25 mil
5. Michael Bourn (OF Braves):
6. Kyle Lohse (RHP Cardinals):
7. Nick Swisher (OF Yankees): Indians – 4 yrs, $56 mil + vesting option
8. Edwin Jackson (RHP Nationals): Cubs – 4 yrs, $52 mil
9. David Ortiz (DH Red Sox): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $26 mil-$30 mil
10. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $15 mil
11. Adam LaRoche (1B Nationals): Nationals – 2 yrs, $24 mil + mutual option
12. Mike Napoli (C-1B Rangers): Red Sox – 1 yr, $5 mil + incentives
13. Mariano Rivera (RHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $10 mil
14. Dan Haren (RHP Angels): Nationals – 1 yr, $13 mil
15. Ryan Dempster (RHP Rangers): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $26.5 mil
16. Torii Hunter (OF Angels): Tigers – 2 yrs, $26 mil
17. Rafael Soriano (RHP Yankees): Nationals – 2 yrs, $28 mil + vesting option
18. Andy Pettitte (LHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $12 mil
19. Shane Victorino (OF Dodgers): Red Sox – 3 yrs, $39 mil
20. Kevin Youkilis (3B White Sox): Yankees – 1 yr, $12 mil
21. Stephen Drew (SS Athletics): Red Sox – 1 yr, $9.5 mil
22. Shaun Marcum (RHP Brewers):
23. Angel Pagan (OF Giants): Giants – 4 yrs, $40 mil
24. Ryan Ludwick (OF Reds): Reds – 2 yrs, $15 mil + mutual option
25. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP Mariners): Mariners – 2 yrs, $14 mil + option
26. A.J. Pierzynski (C White Sox): Rangers – 1 yr, $7.5 mil
27. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP Royals): Royals – 3 yrs, $25 mil
28. Cody Ross (OF Red Sox): Diamondbacks – 3 yrs, $26 mil + option
29. Marco Scutaro (2B Giants): Giants – 3 yrs, $20 mil
30. Shohei Otani (RHP Japan): Remaining in Japan with Nippon Ham
31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP Reds): Reds – 3 yrs, $21 mil
32. Russell Martin (C Yankees): Pirates – 2 yrs, $17 mil
33. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP Giants): Giants – 3 yrs, $18 mil
**. Mark Reynolds (1B Orioles): Indians – 1 yr, $6 mil
34. Delmon Young (OF Tigers): Phillies – 1 yr, $750,000 + $2.5 mil incentives
35. Ichiro Suzuki (OF Yankees): Yankees – 2 yrs, $13 mil
36. Brandon McCarthy (RHP Athletics): Diamondbacks – 2 yrs, $15.5 mil
37. Brett Myers (RHP White Sox): Indians – 1 yr, $7 mil + option
38. Kyuji Fujikawa (RHP Japan): Cubs – 2 yrs, $9.5 mil + vesting option
**: Brian Wilson (RHP Giants):
**. John Lannan (LHP Nationals): Phillies – 1 yr, $2.5 mil
39. Carlos Villanueva (RHP Blue Jays): Cubs – 2 yrs, $10 mil
40. Lance Berkman (1B Cardinals): Rangers – 1 yr, $11 mil + option
41. Sean Burnett (LHP Nationals): Angels – 2 yrs, $8 mil + $4.5 mil vesting option
42. Koji Uehara (RHP Rangers): Red Sox – 1 yr, $4.25 mil
43. Melky Cabrera (OF Giants): Blue Jays – 2 yrs, $16 mil
44. Joe Saunders (LHP Orioles):
45. Kelly Johnson (2B Blue Jays):
46. Ryan Madson (RHP Reds): Angels – 1 yr, $3.5 mil + $3.5 mil incentives
47. Francisco Liriano (LHP White Sox): Pirates – 2 yrs, $12.75 mil
48. Jose Valverde (RHP Tigers):
49. Mike Adams (RHP Rangers): Phillies – 2 yrs, $12 mil + vesting option
50. Roy Oswalt (RHP Rangers):
51. Jeff Keppinger (INF Rays): White Sox – 3 yrs, $12 mil
52. Joakim Soria (RHP Royals): Rangers – 2 yrs, $8 mil
53. Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS Japan): Athletics – 2 yrs, $6.5 mil
54. Brandon Lyon (RHP Blue Jays):
55. Joe Blanton (RHP Dodgers): Angels – 2 yrs, $15 mil + option
56. J.P. Howell (LHP Rays): Dodgers – 1 yr, $2.85 mil + $1.2 mil incentives
57. Scott Baker (RHP Twins): Cubs – 1 yr, $5.5 mil
58. Juan Pierre (OF Phillies): Marlins – 1 yr, $1.6 mil
59. Matt Lindstrom (RHP Rockies):
60. Maicer Izturis (INF Angels): Blue Jays – 3 yrs, $10 mil + option
61. Kyle Farnsworth (RHP Rays):
**. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP Nationals): Brewers – 2 yrs, $6 mil
62. Erik Bedard (LHP free agent):
63. David Ross (C Braves): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $6.2 mil
64. Jon Rauch (RHP Mets):
65. Scott Hairston (OF Mets):
66. Jason Grilli (RHP Pirates): Pirates – 2 yrs, $6.75 mil
67. Jonny Gomes (OF Athletics): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $10 mil
68. Kevin Correia (RHP Pirates): Twins – 2 yrs, $10 mil
**. Mike Pelfrey (RHP Mets): Twins – 1 yr, $4 mil + incentives
69. Eric Chavez (3B Yankees): Diamondbacks – 1 yr, $3 mil
70. Raul Ibanez (OF-DH Yankees): Mariners – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
71. Roberto Hernandez (RHP Indians): Rays – 1 yr, $3.25 mil + incentives
72. Luke Scott (OF-DH Rays):
73. Vicente Padilla (RHP Red Sox): Signed $3.25 million to play in Japan
74. Scott Rolen (3B Reds):
**. Jeff Karstens (RHP Pirates): Pirates – 1 yr, $2.5 mil
75. Carlos Zambrano (RHP Marlins):
76. Carlos Lee (1B Marlins):
77. Francisco Rodriguez (RHP Brewers):
78. Placido Polanco (3B Phillies): Marlins – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
79. Jose Veras (RHP Brewers): Astros – 1 yr, $2 mil + option
80. Grady Sizemore (OF Indians):
81. Scott Feldman (RHP Rangers): Cubs – 1 yr, $6 mil
82. Alex Gonzalez (SS Brewers):
**. Jair Jurrjens (RHP Braves):
83. Matt Capps (RHP Twins):
**. Geovany Soto (C Rangers): Rangers – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
**. Nate Schierholtz (OF Phillies): Cubs – 1 yr, $2.25 mil
84. Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP Red Sox):
85. Carlos Pena (1B Rays): Astros – 1 yr, $2.9 mil + incentives
86. Jason Marquis (RHP Padres): Padres – 1 yr, $3 mil
87. Jason Frasor (RHP Blue Jays): Rangers – 1 yr, $1.5 mil
**: Manny Parra (LHP Brewers):
88. Derek Lowe (RHP Yankees):
89. Chris Young (RHP Mets):
90. Andruw Jones (OF Yankees): Signed $3.6 million deal to play in Japan
91. Michael Gonzalez (LHP Nationals): Brewers – 1 yr, $2.25 mil + incentives
92. Miguel Olivo (C Mariners):
**. Manny Acosta (RHP Mets): Signed $1.65 million deal to play in Japan
93. Jason Bartlett (SS free agent):
94. Kevin Millwood (RHP Mariners):
95. Jim Thome (DH Orioles):
96. Rod Barajas (C Pirates):
97. James Loney (1B Red Sox): Rays – 1 yr, $2 mil
98. Jeff Francis (LHP Rockies): Rockies – 1 yr, $1.5 mil + $1.5 mil in incentives
99. Kelly Shoppach (C Mets):
**. Jesus Flores (C Nationals): Dodgers – minor league contract
**. Andres Torres (OF Mets): Giants – 1 yr, $2 mil
**. Ryan Sweeney (OF Red Sox):
100. Mark Lowe (RHP Rangers):
101. Brandon Inge (3B Athletics):
102. Jonathan Sanchez (LHP Rockies):
103. Ty Wigginton (INF-OF Phillies): Cardinals – 2 yrs, $5 mil
104. Takashi Toritani (SS Japan): Remaining in Japan with Hanshin
105. Chien-Ming Wang (RHP Nationals):
***. Ian Stewart (3B Cubs): Cubs – 1 yr, $2 mil
106. Travis Hafner (DH Indians):
107. Ramon Ramirez (RHP Mets):
108. Carl Pavano (RHP Twins):
109. Reed Johnson (OF Braves): Braves – 1 yr, $1.75 mil + option
110. Hideki Okajima (LHP Japan):
111. Juan Rivera (OF Dodgers):

Signed pre-rankings:

Jake Peavy (RHP White Sox): White Sox – 2 yrs, $29 mil + vesting option
Brandon League (RHP Dodgers): Dodgers – 3 yrs, $22.5 mil + option
Chris Iannetta (C Angels): Angels – 3 yrs, $15.55 mil
Joel Peralta (RHP Rays): Rays – 2 yrs, $6 mil + options
Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics): Athletics – 1 yr, $3 mil
Oliver Perez (LHP Mariners): Mariners – 1 yr, $1.5 mil

Other deals:

Randy Choate (LHP Dodgers): Cardinals – 3 yrs, $7.5 mil
Jack Hannahan (3B Indians): Reds – 2 yrs, $4 mil
Gerald Laird (C Tigers): Braves – 2 yrs, $3.3 mil
Nate McLouth (OF Orioles): Orioles – 1 yr, $2 mil
Dioner Navarro (C Reds): Cubs – 1 yr, $1.75 mil
Casey McGehee (3B Yankees): Signed $1.5 mil deal to play in Japan
Shawn Camp (RHP Cubs): Cubs – 1 yr, $1.35 mil
Eric Hinske (1B-OF Braves): Diamondbacks – 1 yr, $1.075 mil
Jason Bay (OF Mets): Mariners – 1 yr – $1 mil
Zach Duke (LHP Nationals): Nationals – 1 yr