The Pittsburgh Pirates have made their first addition in the free agent market, signing catcher Rod Barajas to a one year deal with a club option for the 2013 season. No financial terms are known yet, although Barajas made $3.25 M in 2011.
In my preview of the free agent catchers, I listed Barajas as an option that would make sense for the Pirates. He turns 36 next year, although he’s been durable, with almost 2500 innings caught over the last three years. That amount is more than any catcher on the free agent market. His OPS over the last three years has been .699, so he won’t provide the offense that the Pirates saw out of Ryan Doumit. However, he has a 26.5% caught stealing rate and a passed ball every 206.97 innings, both upgrades over Doumit.
The top option on the market was Ramon Hernandez, who likely would have required the Pirates to give up their second round pick as compensation. There is no compensation required for Barajas, which might have influenced the decision for the Pirates. Barajas doesn’t have the offense that Hernandez has, but his defense is close. Offensively he doesn’t hit for average, but does hit for power, with 16+ home runs in each of the last three seasons.
UPDATE 11:55 AM: Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports that Barajas will receive $4 M in 2012, and a $3.5 M option in 2013. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the 2012 salary includes a buyout amount for the option.