Rays, Kelly Shoppach agree to multiyear deal
Update 5:41 p.m. Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said while when they acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Indians, they didn't do so with the thought of signing him to a multi-year deal, after conversations with his agent went well, he felt it was in "everyone's best interests" to get one done.
Friedman said even with Shoppach's deal, it doesn't necessarily impact the plan for a platoon in 2010 with catcher Dioner Navarro. Friedman said while "anything is subject to change," their mentality right now is to use both catchers next season, based upon matchups, and feels having depth at that position is "incredibly valuable in our minds."
"We feel like right now like both Shop and Navi are better players than how they peformeed in 2009 and we feel like we've got a very good problem on our hands," Friedman said. "And it is something I fully expect will play out over the course of the 2010 season. So over the course of the season, figure out matchups and whatever else we feel like on each particular night gives us the best chance to win."
Friedman said he reached out to Navarro's agent before Shoppach's deal was announced and doesn't expect any issue. "Navi is a competitor and his mindset is to help the team win games in 2010," Friedman said.
The Rays still have four remaining arbitration eligible players, from LHP J.P. Howell, SS Jason Bartlett, RHP Matt Garza and CF B.J. Upton. The club has had success in recent years avoiding hearings by getting deals done beforehand, and Friedman hopes they can do the same this time around.
Update 5:12 p.m. Shoppach said signing a multi-year deal with the Rays was an opportunity he couldn't pass up, welcoming the security it gives his wife and three daughters, along with the exciting opportunities on the field.
"As we all know, there's no guarantees in this game," he said." And I couldn't let an opportunity like this pass me by...
"This is honestly a young, very, very talented team. It's an opportunity, a place where I might fit in a little bit....I had an opportunity to be able to sleep a little better at night knownig I'll be able to take care of my family for the next couple years."
While the two-year-deal is a strong commitment by the Rays organization, Shoppach maintains he still doesn't know what role he's going to have - whether it's a platoon with Dioner Navarro, or competing for the every-day job - saying it's out of his control and he's open to anything. He doesn't think the pressure of having the contract will impact his play, and is eager to get down to spring training and working on communication with the pitching staff. Shoppach said several Rays have reached out to him after the trade, from David Price to Jason Bartlett, and he said he's confident he'll bounce back from his struggles in 2009 (hitting. 214 with 12 homers, compared to a 2008 season in which he led all AL catchers with 21 homers).
"I think there's enough history there to have enough belief in oneself that you can go out and produce," he said. "There were spurts last year where I had that type of production, the toughest part was holding that over the entire year. I had my ups and downs, and unfortuately more downs than ups."
Developing: New catcher Kelly Shoppach has agreed to a multi-year deal with the Rays that will be announced later today.
Shoppach will be guaranteed $5.55-million in the deal, which covers the 2010-11 seasons and includes an option for 2012, which would be his first year of free agency. He'll get $2.25-million in 2010, $3-million in 2011 and either a $3.2-million team option (with escalators that could raise it to $4-million) or a $300,000 buyout ($500,000 with escalators) in 2012.
The deal avoids arbitration with Shoppach, who was acquired Dec. 1 from Cleveland, for what turned out to be RHP Mitch Talbot. Shoppach made $1.95-million last season when he hit .214 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.
The Rays also have C Dioner Navarro signed for $2.1-million in a deal made at the deadline to tender contracts. The longer commitment to Shoppach will continue to raise questions about Navarro's future with the Rays.