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Tampa Bay Rays acquire catcher Kelly Shoppach



UPDATE, 5:29: What the Rays do next is unclear, and executive VP Andrew Friedman didn't provide much direction.

Shoppach, like incumbent Dioner Navarro, is arbitration eligible. The Rays could keep them both, though both hit better against lefthanded pitchers, which isn't the best match for a tandem. They could now seek to trade Navarro, who is coming off minor left elbow surgery, or let him go by not tendering a contract by the Dec. 12 deadline; and it's possible they instead could do so with Shoppach.

"We've got 12 days until the tender date and we've got now another option that we feel like can help this team,'' Friedman said. "We'll take some time to see how things unfold but we feel like that position is more of a strength right now than it was yesterday and that's our goal. There's not a lot more I can say.''

If they opt to keep one, they could then add another catcher who hits better against righthanders, such as veteran Gregg Zaun, with whom they have maintained talks despite declining his $2--million option. The Rays have to decide by midnight whether to offer him arbitration, which gives him the opportunity to accept and be considered signed, or if he declines allows the Rays to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Zaun, meanwhile, told Canada's The Sports Network there are several teams interested and he expects to sign soon. "It'll be done before the end of this week, before the Winter Meetings,'' he said. "All I can say right now is there is more than one club involved and not all of them are in the American League.''

The Rays have yet to announce how they will make room on the 40-man roster for Shoppach. Friedman said there are still discussion about the player to be named later who will go to the Indians, with a resolution required by Dec. 20.

Shoppach, who made $1.95-million last season, said he was excited by the move, especially since the Indians are rebuilding.

"As far as opportunity, I'm very excited,'' Shoppach said. "I've heard nothing but good things about the staff and the front office down there, some of the players. Obviously, it's an opportunity for me to compete now, which is better than the rebuilding process that Cleveland was going to do. Ultimate;y, that's what I want to do - I want to help a team win. ... I think it's going to be a nice situation.' '

The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach from Cleveland for a player to be named.

Shoppach, 29, hit .214 last year with 12 homers, 14 doubles, 40 RBI, a dropoff from a strong 2008 season when he hit .261 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs.

Shoppach is a righthanded hitter who has a career .295 average against lefty pitchers, with a .386 OBP and .614 slugging percentage.

In 2008 Shoppach (SHOP-pick), led all AL catchers with 21 homers. His 32 over the last two seasons match Joe Mauer for second most among AL catchers.

-- MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:52am]


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