Jays Sign Barajas

In a somewhat strange turn of events today, the Jays signed Catcher Rod Barajas to a 1-year deal. To be frank, it surprises me that the Jays have anything to do with Barajas at all, after he agreed to a 2-year deal with them last season, only to pull out at the 11th hour.

Barajas' deal is worth $1.2 million. The difference between this year and last for Barajas is that last year, the Jays were looking at him as their primary catcher, while he now appears to be set to back up Zaun. Barajas had an injury-plagued season last year, playing in only 48 games. He wasn't particularly effective when he did play, either but he did walk enough to earn a .745 OPS, which isn't bad for a backup catcher. Barajas has a better track record than Zaun at throwing out runners, but the Jays pitchers make it very difficult to hold men on. Out of the projected rotation, only Marcum and either Janssen or Litsch could be expected to hold runners close enough to even give catchers much of a chance.

The upside to this deal is that if Zaun gets injured, we won't be treated to Sal Fasano as the Jays' everyday catcher. The downside is that Thigpen would seem to be capable of providing adequate injury cover for Zaun, since his projections for next season are basically comparable to those of Barajas. But it just doesn't seem like the Jays are at all comfortable with the idea of Thigpen behind the plate. In addition, since Zaun and Barajas are both free agent eligible after the season, Thigpen and Diaz aren't blocked beyond this season so could still fight it out for the job (or share it) next season.

It's not likely this deal will make much of a difference either way, but since all available evidence would seem to indicate that Thigpen is basically capable of handling the catcher role and providing adequate offense for the position (notwithstanding his difficulties last season), I'd like to hear some explanation of how he fits into the Jays' long-term plans, if at all.

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