[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.