Backstopped

John Flaherty
Toby Hall
Dioner Navarro

That’s the list of starting catchers the Rays have had in their entire history. If you take away the season Navarro had in 2008, Rays catchers have finished in the bottom half of the league in overall production year in and year out. There was hope after 2008 that Navarro would be turning the trend of catching futility for the Rays but he regressed in a huge way in 2009 at the plate and behind the plate. Frankly, he was being outplayed behind the dish by a journeyman minor league free agent and then again once the Zaunbie Nation came to Tampa Bay. In the interview posted in the previous story, I was asked what I would do if I could the the Rays’ GM for a day and I did not hesitate to answer, “find a long-term solution at catcher.”

The problem is, there just are not that many options on the open market for the Rays to pursue on the free agent market.  Cot’s (one of my favorite sites) has a list of free agent catchers this market, including the ones that could be retained by the club through a contract option. After looking at that list, you probably had the same adverse reaction as I did to it because the names just are not that desirable outside of Bengie Molina. The problem with Molina  is he wants a raise from the $6,000,000 he made in 2009 and he wants at least a 2 year deal. That is quite a risky contract for a 35 year old and we only have to look back at the Red Sox and Jason Varitek to see how risky it can be to meddle with aging catchers.

The best option for the Rays if the want to address a long-term catching solution is going to come through a trade and the Rangers and Angels would both be on the short-list of any club looking for catchers as both teams have some of the strongest depth at catcher in baseball.  DRaysBay.com also raised an interesting possibility last week – J.R. Towles from Houston and I can’t say I disagree with his points. If Towles can’t work out for my 2nd favorite team, maybe he can work out for my favorite team.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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