[Update] The Rays have designated Jeff Bennett for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

[Update] The deal is now official (via Rays Press Release), with the Rays giving up a player to be named later.

[2:40pm] We have just learned that the Rays are close to a deal that would send catcher Kelly Shoppach to the Rays from Cleveland. It is unknown who would be going to the Indians.

Shoppach hit .214/.335/.399 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 89 games last season. He is arbitration-eligible and will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. He made $1.95 million in 2009.

This trade does open the possibility that the Rays will cut ties with Dioner Navarro instead of offering him arbitration by the December 12th deadline as there is no need to keep both catchers. Shoppach is much stronger versus lefties (1.045 OPS vLHP, .652 vRHP in ’09) as is Navarro (.740 OPS v LHP, .489 OPS vRHP in ’09).

This move does not keep the Rays from re-signing Gregg Zaun to be the left-handed bat in a catching platoon.

 
 

17 Comments

  1. Charles says:

    I like this move. If Zaun re-signs, you can non-tender Navi. If Zaun bails, you’ve still got a solid catcher and can let Navi be the backup.

    • Only problem with Navi as a backup is that his arbitration salary will be based on him being a starter and that will be a lot of money for a backup catcher on a team with a limited budget. Also, I’m not sure you want Shoppach playing everyday.

      My guess is Navi is gone either way. Rays will try to sign Zaun. And if not they will find somebody else that hits righties. Unfortunately, Riggans is also better versus lefties, so he is not an option unless Shoppach is the everyday catcher.

      • Charles says:

        I actually don’t mind Shoppach as the most days catcher, provided he’s sent to the plate with the mindset against righties that he’s there to work a walk in most situations and not swing away.

        • Let’s say Rays play 60 games versus lefties. You want Shoppach in all of those. I wouldn’t mind giving him half of the games versus righties. That still leaves 40-50 games versus righties that need to be filled. So I think the Rays still need a Zaun or similar.

          • Charles says:

            Oh yeah, for sure. In my ideal world, it’s Shoppach & Zaun (well OK, it’s actually Mauer & Buster Posey, but you get my meaning) – my fear is that Zaun is going to go somewhere that he’s the starter. Houston, for example, would almost certainly make him the guaranteed starter, and I suspect that other clubs could make that same offer. With the Rays now having Shoppach, you’d think a more even split would be more likely, so is that something that would appeal to Zaun?

          • If somebody wants to give Zaun a full-time gig, the Rays are in trouble there.

            Looking at some minor league splits, I am actually warming to idea of either Jaso or Lobaton getting 40gms versus righties. Both are have good splits to be a backup option. A kinda half-platoon.

          • Brixology says:

            How are those guys with throwing out baserunners? Isn’t it Jaso that threw out the same number of baserunners as I did last year?

            If memory serves, Lobaton had some pretty good games at the major league level before we picked him up.

  2. steve-o1285 says:

    Works for me.

  3. Dave Smith says:

    .214! He hit .214 last year! Sheesh! Have we given up on Shawn Riggins? And we’ve got to pay him $3 mil this year? I think even Navi hit better than .214 last year. Hopefully this guy at least isn’t a defensive liability.

    • steve-o1285 says:

      You’re looking at batting average from his worst (unluckiest) statistical season and evaluating him based on that….please don’t.

    • Charles says:

      True, he only hit .214 but he also knows how to take a walk – his OBP was 74 points higher than Navarro’s. Riggans has not proven he can hit consistently at the major league level, has not proven he has plate discipline at ANY level, and he’s only 3 months younger than Shoppach (i.e., his time as any sort of prospect has come and gone). Riggans is not the present or the future – he’s just another guy at this point.

    • I think John Jaso or even Jose Lobaton are better backup options than Riggans at this point

  4. stunna says:

    YES! Awesome move. I love Shoppach. Living in Ohio I catch a lot of Indians games, and I’ve always thought he was a solid player.

    Any word on what type of player the Rays will be giving up? Mid-level prospect perhaps?

  5. Beth says:

    Just checked his 2009 stats (Shoppach’s that is) and figured out the secret of his decent OBP — he led the league in hit-by-pitch! For a guy who doesn’t play every day, that’s quite a feat. I hope it isn’t accompanied by long stints on the DL.

  6. MJ says:

    MLBTradeRumors says Rays offer arb to zaun and shouse. This has to mean that navi is gone, correct?

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