The first part of that headline is a fact. The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed free agent catcher Rod Barajas, and they'll give him $4 million in 2012. A $3.5 million club option for 2013 also exists. The second part of that headline is a guess. Rod Barajas isn't guaranteed to be the Pirates' starting catcher next season. But he's probably going to be the Pirates' starting catcher next season, at least for the first while until or unless somebody younger emerges.
The Pirates were left with a void behind the plate once Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder became free agents. They had Michael McKenry and Jason Jaramillo in-house, along with Matt Pagnozzi and Eric Fryer on the 40-man roster, but none of those guys are presently capable starting candidates. So they turned their attention to the 36-year-old Barajas, who they got locked up on a one-year contract.
Here's what Barajas will bring:
- Some power
That's it, really. Barajas will bring some power, and the ability to play catcher a lot. His arm isn't great, his pitch blocking isn't great, he doesn't hit for a good average, and he doesn't walk, but he can hit the occasional ball off the wall or over it. He has a career batting line of .238/.284/.414, and that tells you exactly what you need to know about Rod Barajas.
One issue is that Barajas will be moving to Pittsburgh's home ballpark, which reduces home runs hit by right-handed hitters. That's a concern. But Barajas will be coming from Los Angeles, and Dodger Stadium isn't particularly friendly to righties, either. It's doubtful that the park is going to matter that much, and - let's be perfectly honest, here - it's doubtful that Barajas is going to matter that much. He's an aging catcher who signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Where do the Dodgers go from here? They have A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz as backstops on the roster. Each is moderately interesting, but neither is considered much of a starter right now, so my answer is, I don't know. I don't know how much the Dodgers can spend, and I don't know if the Dodgers will spend it at catcher. But they could. Baseball Nation: come for the .gifs, stay for the insight!