Brad Ausmus played until 41 despite rarely getting a ball out of the infield in his later years and an extreme lack of production never stopped the Royals from throwing money at Jason Kendall, but all of a sudden, experience isn’t counting quite as much on the catcher market.
Ivan Rodriguez, who landed a two-year, $6 million contract last time he was a free agent, is struggling to find a job this winter. The same goes for Jason Varitek, though in his case, it’s the lack of a throwing arm, not so much his bat, that’s costing him.
Rodriguez, who needs 156 hits to get to 3,000 in his career, isn’t considering retirement just yet. He told the Washington Times that he’s fully recovered from the oblique strain that limited him last year:
“The only thing I can do is just keep myself in good shape and see what happens, you know? That’s basically about it. It is tough. At the same time, what you going to do? You really cannot do anything. The only thing I can tell you is that I’m in good shape. I feel pretty good.”
The Cardinals, Rays, Marlins, Athletics, Mets, Rockies, Cubs and Pirates all have unsettled backup catching situations at the moment, but none seems especially interested in signing a free agent. Besides Pudge and Varitek, Ramon Castro and Ronny Paulino are struggling to find jobs as well. No one from the group figures to get more than a minor league contract.
Last month, Mariners former director of high performance, Dr. Lorena Martin, was dismissed from the club after the first year of her three-year contract. She made serious allegations of racism and sexism against the Mariners in the days that followed, all of which have been the subject of multiple investigations by the team itself as well as Major League Baseball. On Friday evening, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an email that had purportedly been sent to Mariners staff members by CEO John Stanton.
The email itself was printed here in full (subscription required) and basically rehashes everything the Mariners said in an official statement on Monday: That the team continues to deny allegations of racist and sexist behavior by general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, and farm director Andy McKay because they are “completely inconsistent with who they are and what the Seattle Mariners stand for.”
Stanton added that no one had stepped forward to corroborate Martin’s accusations so far, and also went out of his way to mention that he had never personally observed members of the Mariners personnel “making disparaging, racist or sexist comments” during two trips to the Dominican Republic. The email concluded with an invitation for other staff members to speak up if they had any differing experiences or concerns about the team.
According to multiple reports from the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, among other outlets, Martin has yet to reveal a number of incriminating emails she claimed to have in her possession, nor has any staff member publicly supported her previous statements on her wrongful termination or the toxic culture within the club. That doesn’t mean, however, that the allegations she made against the Mariners are false, just as Stanton’s claim that he never personally witnessed instances of racism and sexism within the organization doesn’t mean that racist and sexist statements and actions were never made. As Bill pointed out, Martin has likely burned all bridges within the organization and, more significantly, throughout the league as well. It stands to reason that others would feel hesitant to come forward in light of the harsh ramifications that typically await whistleblowers in this kind of situation.
We’ll update this story as it continues to develop.