For a short while, we've been taking it for granted that the Seattle Mariners would eventually sign free-agent catcher Kelly Shoppach. The other day, Ryan Divish reported that Shoppach was in Seattle for a visit. We couldn't dismiss the possibility that Shoppach was just here to hang out, as if the Mariners' front office were some of his baseball buddies, but the more likely assumption was that Shoppach was around to get signed. Indeed, Shoppach was around to get signed, and while nothing is official yet, Shoppach's going to be a 2013 Seattle Mariner:
Kelly Shoppach gets base salary of $1.5M from #mariners with a chance to make an additional $500,000 in incentives.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 30, 2013
The only hold-up is that Shoppach still has to pass a physical, which might be somewhat difficult to conduct on account of all the hair. (I assume that Kelly Shoppach is hairy.) Oh, also, the other hold-up is that the Mariners will need to make room on their 40-man roster, which might mean trade. Or it could mean designation for assignment, followed by trade. Or it could just mean designation for assignment. So it could be a few days before the Mariners make their Shoppach agreement official. But I don't see any reason to believe he'll bomb a physical. What are they going to find, avascular necrosis? Like that ever happens.
Here's a more detailed Kelly Shoppach post from Monday. Nothing about my opinions or evaluations has changed since then. Shoppach is signing with the Mariners to be the backup catcher, behind Jesus Montero, so in the big picture he'll probably be fairly inconsequential. If he's bad, odds are he gives way to Ronny Paulino or Mike Zunino. If he's all right, he will have played like Kelly Shoppach. If he's really good, it'll be a fluke, but he'll get some more playing time. Shoppach has had some issues with his playing time in the recent past, and last season he caused something of a stir with Boston, but I have to figure he knows what he's getting into in Seattle. He knows he's behind a talented youngster, and he has a relationship with Eric Wedge, so I'm guessing Shoppach won't have the same issues with the Mariners that he had with the Red Sox. If he does, whatever, it's Kelly Shoppach. Put up with him or don't. Kelly Shoppach's roster spot isn't where championships are won and lost.
The Kelly Shoppach skillset summary:
- passable but underwhelming defense
Historically, 45 percent of Shoppach's hits have gone for extra bases, and he has the kind of power that he looks like he has. But, historically, 33 percent of Shoppach's plate appearances have ended with strikeouts, and he's been much worse against righties than lefties. As a fun fact, since Shoppach debuted in 2005, 476 players have batted at least 1,000 times. Shoppach's hit-by-pitch rate ranks fourth-highest, between Ryan Garko and Chase Utley. Shoppach has been hit in 3.1 percent of his plate appearances. Yuniesky Betancourt has drawn an unintentional walk in 3.2 percent of his plate appearances. I didn't plan on discovering that. That just sort of happened as I traced my own curiosity. Wow.
Backup catcher. Lifetime .226/.314/.418 batting line. Power and whiffs, in a way that doesn't involve Miguel Olivo's playing time, or Miguel Olivo's hopeless over-aggression. This is probably going to be fine until it's over, and then we'll be left thinking, that seemed like it was fine.