Back-Up Catchers

The Giants just signed catcher Guillermo Quiroz to a minor league contract.  Quiroz hasn’t done much at the major league level (.538 in 282 plate appearances spread across parts of eight seasons), but he’s coming off a good year (.846 OPS) as the primary catcher for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners’ top farm club.  Quiroz turns 31 later this week.

Meanwhile the Yankees signed former Giants back-up catcher Eli Whiteside to what appears to be a major league contract in the amount of $625,000, avoiding arbitration (or the possibility that the Yanks might non-tender Whiteside).  Yankees claimed Whiteside off waivers from the Giants on November 5, 2102.  Whiteside recently turned age 33.

Whiteside is the classic example of a player who was in the right place at the right time, getting a major league shot and making the most of it.  Whiteside had washed out of both the Orioles and Twins organizations in the year before the Giants signed him in 2008.  He got off to a fairly good start in 2009 for Fresno, the Giants’ AAA team, and was Johnie-on-the-Spot when the Giants had a sudden need for a back-up catcher and few other viable options.

Whiteside played just well enough to hold onto his roster spot as the Giants’ back-up catcher through the 2011 season and, in the process, established his reputation as a “major league” player.

Frankly, I don’t think Whiteside is as good a player as Quiroz, at least going forward.  I don’t know much about Quiroz’s defense, but I know from watching Whiteside play with the Giants that his defense is average at best.  While Whiteside has done more at the major league level offensively (Whiteside’s career MLB OPS is .608), that has more to do with receiving more opportunities than Quiroz has had.

Both players have substantial AAA experience, and at that level Quiroz has been the better offensive player by a wide margin — .747 OPS for Quiroz, compared to .644 for Whiteside.  Equally important, Quiroz is two years younger than Whiteside.

The Yankees can certainly afford to give Whiteside $625,000 in 2013, but I suspect they could have found a back-up catcher of equal or greater value for considerably less.

Explore posts in the same categories: New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants

One Comment on “Back-Up Catchers”

  1. Burly Says:

    11/28/12: No sooner did the Yankees sign Eli Whiteside than they designated him for assignment to create roster space for Andy Pettitte. According to more recent reports, the Yankees guaranteed only $200,000 of Whiteside’s $625,000 2013 salary.

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