With the return of Dioner Navarro this week, the Rays now have an interesting dilemma this off-season. When Navi was demoted back in June, we just assumed that he would be non-tendered during the off-season, essentially releasing him. It appeared that the Rays had chosen Kelly Shoppach’s bat over Navi’s defense and familiarity with the pitching staff. And with the inconsistency of the Rays offense, the Rays were willing to take a step backwards defensively at the catcher’s position.

But then something happened. Actually, we should say something didn’t happen. Shoppach never started hitting. In 146 plate appearances, Shoppach is hitting .189 with 3 home runs (2 in one game), a .306 OBP and a .288 wOBA (that sucks).

So what will the Rays do?

Of the three catchers, Shoppach is the only one the Rays are committed to for the 2011 season, to the tune of $3.0 million. Navarro is arbitration-eligible and would make $2.5-3.0 million. If they non-tender him, they owe him nothing. John Jaso would make near the big league minimum of $400K.

You have to assume they will keep Jaso. Even with his below-average fielding, his .388 OBP and .355 wOBA are too good to send back to the minors.

If Shoppach isn’t going to hit, the Rays would prefer to keep Navi. But what do they do with Shoppy’s contract? It is hard to imagine they can trade him. We can’t see the Rays waiving Shoppach, even if Navarro is the better option.

Could they keep all three and use Jaso as a DH and possibly fill-in at first base? That leaves the Rays platooning Navi and Shoppach at catcher, something that didn’t work too well this season.

This is a tricky situation. It seems like Shoppach should be the odd-man out, but his contract may make that impossible.

With all the changes that are likely to happen to the roster this off-season, this one is below-the-radar. But it is also the one that may be the biggest mystery.

 
 

13 Comments

  1. I have a funny feeling Kelly Shoppach is going to *OWN* September/October for the Rays. After that, Navarro will be somewhere else. The Rays will make sure Jaso learns how to handle the pitching staff better and they will have a true catching platoon next year.

  2. KillaTapes says:

    Yeah I agree Michael, hopefully you’re right about Sept/Oct. I think the upside to Shop’s bat is way higher and I think his presence in the clubhouse is a plus as well. I say take a chance, platoon Jaso and Shop.

    • Beth says:

      How do you know whether his presence in the clubhouse is a plus? Seriously, I’ve always wondered how fans determine that someone is a “good” or “bad” presence in the clubhouse — other than really egregiously bad influences (Milton Bradley, Manny Ramirez) or clear leaders (Cliff Floyd, maybe).

  3. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I have no faith in Shoppach. The man can barely hit lefties, and he can’t even come close hitting righties. So I just can’t see Shopvach breaking out offensively in September/October.

    Sorry. :(

  4. Leighroy says:

    Potential is a great thing, but it only goes so far when you haven’t lived up to it. Shoppach hasn’t shown anything. People who believe he is just gunna magically show up in sept/oct…. what are you basing this on? Did Pedro Cerrano sneak into the Rays clubhouse and take the hex off his bat without us knowing?

    He had one good year where he jacked some HR’s but still only had a .260 ba with a ton of strikeouts. Then last year he hit .214 and this year it’s even worse. Also, I have yet to be impressed by his throwing ability.

    Frankly we’re getting the same offense if not better out of Navarro this year! And Navi is a plus defender and thrower who hits better as a righty anyway.

    If we’re stuck with Shoppach next year than fine, I guess we have to deal with it and hope for the best. But I’m not holding my breath anytime soon thinking he’s about to go off on a tear when frankly we have better options.

    • Sublime says:

      I was thinking the exact same thing, Shop can’t hit and at this point I’d rather have Navi’s defense, then Shop’s No offense and terrible D. The Jays were running on us like Nobody’s business!

  5. Don says:

    Shopp was another of those “mistake” signings…a 2nd year for $3mil please….
    Jaso should be given the job outright next year..he has a chance to be very good….either of the other two no-hitting bums can sit on the bench…just in case we need a late inning strike out!

  6. Kyra says:

    You all forgot about Jose Lobaton. He is on the roster but DL. Why is there 4 catchers? Makes no sense to me.

  7. Tone says:

    Kyra is right, we have good catchers in the minors in both Lobaton and Ashley. Shoppach is not even close to being worth his price, while Navi can at least defend and also has the history with all the pitchers. I would get rid of Shoppach and keep Navi given the choice between to two. As bad as Navi has been, I miss him after watching Shoppach suck 10 times worse. Navi and Jaso should be the platoon till the end of the season, but I have already heard that Shop will keep getting starts vs lefties even though Navi is a better hitter vs lefties at this point and a WAY better defensive option as well. Shoppach cannot hit anything, he is an before he walks into the box. His career vs lefties will still be pointed at even though we have a VERY good sample size this season of him not hitting even close to below his career average.

  8. David says:

    Shoppach is continuing his career track record of not being someone you can consistently rely on for his defense or his bat. From the day he signed with Rays I was questioning the logic of signing a deal like this with the Rays penny pinchinh ways

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