In 2012, catcher was a position of weakness for the Pirates. The position -- played exclusively by Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry -- posted a .218 batting average, a .300 OBP and a .392 slugging percentage. It was the lowest batting average of any position (not including pitchers).
Barajas, who saw most of the season's plate appearances, can take most of the blame, finishing the season .206/.283/.343. With the exception of a hot streak in May, his signing was a disappointment. Though he said during the season he would be willing to negotiate a new contract with the Pirates should they choose to decline his option (which they did earlier this month), it is unlikely the team brings Barajas back.
McKenry gave fans hope with quality offensive production in late June, July and early August. But he struggled toward the end of the season, ending the year .233/.320/.442. From Aug. 15 till the end of the season, McKenry hit .148 with five extra base hits.
The team is not yet ready to commit to Tony Sanchez, who has struggled at the plate the past two seasons. His development would solve a lot of problems for the Pirates.
Pirates management have not yet committed to McKenry's role next season. It seems as if they are hedging a bit -- they won't tie themselves to naming him the 2013 starter or the 2013 backup. It all depends on what they are able to do in the free agent/trade market this offseason.
Name, Age on Opening Day, 2012 Team(s), 2012 Batting Average, Career Batting Average
Henry Blanco, 41, Diamondbacks, .188, .227 -- Signing Blanco would likely be a move of desperation for any team. His age, health and production are all areas for concern.
Gerald Laird, 33, Tigers, .282, .244 -- Likely earned himself a raise with a strong performance this season. But it's been three years since he was a No. 1 catcher.
Russell Martin, 30, Yankees, .211, .260 -- This would be an intriguing move, given his familiarity with A.J. Burnett and the team's recent success with relocated Yankees. But Martin will likely come at a cost, and with a few years attached.
Mike Napoli, 31, Rangers, .227, .259 -- Though his batting average dropped this season, Napoli posted good OBP (.343) and slugging (.469) numbers. He will likely be among the most expensive options.
Dioner Navarro, 29, Reds, .290, .245 -- Injuries and offensive inconsistencies are a concern. They could also keep the price down.
A.J. Pierzynski, 36, White Sox, .278, .284 -- The former Fort Wayne Wizard (shoutout) is a pillar of consistency. He would be a good veteran presence in any clubhouse and has the pedigree to be a good contributor at the plate. But all of those attributes come at a high price.
Kelly Shoppach, 32, Red Sox/Mets, .233, .226 -- It's been a few years since Shoppach had a really good season at the plate, though 2012 looked promising before being traded to the Mets.
Chris Snyder, 32, Astros, .176, .225 -- His health was an issue in Pittsburgh. His production was an issue in Houston.
Yorvit Torrealba, 34, Rangers/Blue Jays/Brewers, .227, .257 -- His production has waned in recent years. Therefore, he is affordable.
Matt Treanor, 37, Dodgers, .175, .221 -- He struggled to find his comfort zone in Los Angeles and is among the oldest catchers in this class.
Other options: Koyie Hill, Miguel Olivo, Humberto Quintero, Brian Schneider
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