Jason Varitek is said to be leaning toward retirement, but the other 40-year-old catcher on the free agent market, Ivan Rodriguez, is still trying to land a gig for 2012.
Rodriguez told the Associated Press that he’s been “working out every day in the gym” and “can still play” if a team gives him a chance, noting that the number of big-name veterans without jobs as spring training begins “is hard to believe.”
In some cases, perhaps, but at this point Rodriguez, like Varitek, is a pretty marginal major leaguer. He brings plenty of experience and still-strong defense to the table, but the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer was abysmal offensively last season and hasn’t been a productive hitter–even for a catcher–since 2006.
Rodriguez is still hoping to reach 3,000 hits, but even if he can find a part-time gig for this season getting the 166 hits necessary is an extreme long shot. He had just 27 hits last year and hasn’t topped 110 hits in a season since 2007. Overall he’s no worse than several backups around baseball, but unfortunately for Rodriguez he’s also not clearly better.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.