Rod Barajas is a Type B FA who was offered arbitration by the Jays and can net the Jays a pretty nice draft pick in the upcoming 2010 draft should he find a new home in 2010. The problem is, he hasn’t been able to find one thus far and options seem extremely limited at this point. I strolled around the league depth charts to see if there is a fit anywhere in the league, and here is what I found:
- Milwaukee: The Brewers signed Greg Zaun to start this season, but he doesn’t exactly scream “every day catcher” at his age, therefore Milwaukee could be a fit if the price fits their budget. Zaun’s backups are George Kottaras and Angel Salome.
- Houston: JR Towles and Humberto Quintero are their catchers until Jason Castro makes it up to MLB. Therefore, they seem like the best fit but may want his price to come down some before signing him. Unless the Astros feel that Castro will make it up to the club by July, they should end up signing Rod. I know they want to give Towles a chance to play every day to prove his potential, but they could end up irking Roy Oswalt and company even more than they already have by not signing the right players to win. The Astros are my favorite “trade deadline sellers” of the National League this season.
- Kansas City: I know it makes no sense since they signed Jason Kendall to play most of the days, but that’s also the biggest reason for them to sign Rod Barajas, because Jason Kendall is inexplicably their every day catcher. His backups are currently Branyan Pena (who showed some real potential last season although I have no idea about his defensive skills) and Manuel Pina who has no MLB experience and played in the minors for Texas most of 2009.
- Mets: The day that this franchise fires its entire front office I will believe that they could do something that makes sense. Until then, they’ll do the exact opposite. So, I expect them to stay away from Barajas and keep Omir Santos as their starter.
- Baltimore: I know they have Wieters who will play the majority of the time, but adding Barajas would give Matt some days off (which every catcher needs), or would allow Matt to DH some. It could take a lot of pressure off Wieters overall and would give the Orioles a lot more depth since Craig Tatum is their backup, and he definitely lacks experience behind the plate as well with only 26 games played.
- Cleveland: I know they have Lou Marson and Carlos Santana billed as their catching duo for years to come, but the chances of both being MLB ready and effective are slim at this point, so signing Barajas makes perfect sense for the Indians. They are my second highest likely candidate to sign Rod at this point.
- NY Yankees: Oddly enough, the Yankees could use backup to Jorge Posada. They currently have Francisco Cervelli listed as his backup which doesn’t exactly inspire greatness. They do have Jesus Montero coming up from the minors, but they could definitely use someone with more experience on the roster to make sure they get their championship run. I’m not sure Barajas would want to play in a backup role, but he may not have a chance and there are worst places to be a backup than on a defending championship team.
- Texas: They have some health concerns with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and are said to be looking for a veteran presence behind the plate, which Barajas would fill pretty well. The main issue here would simply be his inflated price, as every team who needed a catcher at the beginning of FA said or alluded to about Barajas. Taylor Teagarden should get some playing time nonetheless which may scare off Barajas due to limited playing time overall and a refusal to see him as the number one option behind the plate.
So there they are, the 8 options I could foresee Rod Barajas having before the season starts to sign with an MLB club. At stake for the Jays is a pick in the Supplemental first round of the draft, a pretty high pick and one that could net the Jays an impact player. I know Rod is most likely thinking that this is his best opportunity to cash in on a pretty productive season with the Jays, but the key here is that it was the best opportunity, not is. There are too few dancing partners left to play hard ball with and none of them are desperate enough to meet his asking price. Hopefully Rod realizes that before spring training starts and signs with a team instead of waiting until injuries occur, because if he waits until after the draft I’m pretty sure the Jays would lose their pick altogether (someone tell me if I’m wrong about that). Are there other options than those listed above? There could be if some teams want to add depth, but I doubt they’d offer much money to Barajas, and I’m almost positive he’d refuse a minimal role on any team. Therefore, I see the Astros or the Indians to be one of the teams to acquire Rod once his price gets to a level that they’re comfortable with.