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Catcher Depth

This organization's got a lot of it.

The Mariners claimed Guillermo Quiroz off waivers from Toronto today, presumably to take the backup role behind Kenji Johjima and allowing Rene Rivera to resume full-time duty somewhere he actually belongs. Not sure yet who's getting bumped from the 40-man, although at least we can rest easy knowing that it won't be Roberto Petagine. I think. For what it's worth, this is going to make it incredibly difficult for Jeff Harris to win a bullpen spot, since doing so would require the M's to boot two players off the roster where yesterday it would've only been one. Also, say goodbye to whichever one of Fruto/Gonzalez/Woods doesn't make it. Meh.

Quiroz is an interesting player - he's only 24, he's a good defensive backstop, and there's enough power in his bat to keep him from being a total black hole at the plate. A shoulder injury and a collapsed lung forced him out of action for a substantial chunk of the summer, yet he still managed to show decent pop when he played. There are growing concerns that his big 2003 season (.890 OPS in AA as a 21 year old) was a mirage, but the fact that he did that even once in his history gives him a big leg up on Rivera, who's been bad pretty much everywhere (cup of coffee notwithstanding).

Although the backup catcher position isn't going to win or lose many games for the Mariners, this is a good move, giving the team an intriguing reserve capable of stepping in for a few weeks at a time without embarrassing himself should anything horrible happen to Johjima. And because Quiroz is 24, has power, and occupies a position at which players are notoriously slow to develop, there exists a little promise that he could become more than just a backup for at least a year or two down the road, giving the roster some additional flexibility and the front office a valuable trading chip. Look at what Bavasi managed to snag for Yorvit Torrealba. People always need catchers, and unless his development has been completely stunted, Quiroz should generate at least moderate interest as he improves as a player.

PECOTA projects a .238/.303/.411 weighted mean batting line, although this is in Toronto, not Seattle. His top comp was a bust, but there's enough talent on the list to make for a pretty optimistic 2007+ forecast. I'm beginning to like this move even more than I did two minutes ago, when I started writing this post.

Bill Bavasi has gotten mixed reviews on his seven- and eight-figure contracts, but he's proven himself fairly adept at the little things, be it waiver claims or minor trades to stock the farm system. Add the Quiroz acquisition to the "thumbs up" list. Zero downside, decent upside. No way not to like it at least a little.

Update: via the press release, Luis Gonzalez has been sent back to Los Angeles, clearing a spot on the 40-man roster for Quiroz. That makes one less competitor for a job at the back of the bullpen.