Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays acquire catcher Kelly Shoppach; plans for Navarro unclear

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays increased their options behind the plate by acquiring Kelly Shoppach from Cleveland on Tuesday.

Now they have to decide what to do.

"There's not a lot more I can say," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

Shoppach, 29, is coming off a poor 2009 season (.210, 12 HRs, 40 RBIs) following a strong 2008 showing (.261, 21, 55), is a right-handed hitter who does better against lefty pitchers and is in line for a raise through arbitration after making $1.95 million last season.

That's not much different from incumbent starter Dioner Navarro, who is 25, had a bad 2009 season (.218, 8, 32) after a solid 2008, is a switch-hitter who hits better vs. lefties and is arbitration eligible after making $2.1 million.

The Rays could keep both to compete for or share the job, though it wouldn't be the optimal pairing since neither hits right-handers well.

Or, with both headed to the $2.5 million salary range through arbitration and a Dec. 12 deadline to tender contracts, they could essentially play them off each other — negotiate with both, see which one they can strike a better deal with then trade or cut loose the other. (Furthering that theory, the Shoppach trade is for a player to be named by Dec. 20, allowing time for resolution.)

"We've got (11) 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."

If they ditch one, they could add a more complementary second catcher, with re-signing veteran Gregg Zaun (who hits right-handers well) an option, among others.

The Rays offered arbitration Tuesday to Type B free agents Zaun and lefty reliever Brian Shouse, which allows them to receive draft pick compensation (between rounds 1 and 2) if either signs elsewhere.

If either accepts (by their Dec. 8 deadline), they are considered signed, but since the Rays previously declined their $2 million options, it could be they are confident both will decline arbitration because they have better offers. The Rays decided Tuesday night not to offer arbitration to reliever Russ Springer.

Navarro "truly wants" to stay with the Rays, agent Kendall Almerico said. "Navi looks forward to working with Kelly next season. You can never have too much talent behind the plate."

Shoppach, traded from Boston to Cleveland in 2006, said he welcomed the chance to join the Rays: "I've heard nothing but good things. … I think it's going to be a nice situation."

To make room on the 40-man roster, reliever Jeff Bennett, with a 9.95 ERA in 11 games, was designated for assignment.


• Friedman said he's "not even thinking … right now" about trading OF Carl Crawford and that the mutual goal remains a long-term deal but acknowledged both sides have to do what they think is best: "Hopefully there is an overlap."

• Improving the bullpen remains the top priority, and it is still unlikely the Rays will acquire an established closer.

• Manager Joe Maddon will host, cook and serve his annual Thanks-mas meal at four Tampa Bay-area Salvation Army shelters Dec. 14-17.

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays acquire catcher Kelly Shoppach; plans for Navarro unclear 12/01/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 11:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]