Jon Morosi had the initial word, but Greg Johns confirms that the Mariners have signed Josh Bard to a minor league contract, granting him an invitation to Spring Training.
When the M's signed Miguel Olivo a month ago, and yesterday, they installed him as the starting catcher. You don't give two years and $7 million to a backup. They did so not only to improve behind the plate, but also to give Adam Moore a bit of a push. With Olivo around, Moore would have to fight for playing time more than he would were he paired with, say, Gregg Zaun or Rob Johnson.
But even in that situation, Moore was still all but guaranteed a Major League roster spot, as his only competition was Chris Gimenez. I know Eric Wedge kind of likes Gimenez after spending time with him in Cleveland, but Gimenez isn't a guy you want on the club in anything other than an emergency.
And so the M's got Bard on the line. I think it'll be Bard - and not Olivo - who gives Moore his strongest push. Bard is a legitimate challenger. He has a lot of Major League experience and started 35 games behind the plate for this team a year ago. He's capable defensively and switch-hits with a bit of power, and if Moore comes out and has a rough month of March, I don't think the front office will hesitate to send him back to Tacoma. They know Bard can get the job done. They don't know the same about Moore.
Obviously, the Mariners will want Moore to earn his spot. He's the talented prospect, and Bard isn't on the 40-man roster. But Jack Zduriencik has talked about how he wants the young players to work harder for their opportunities and treat the big leagues as less of a given, and so this fits. The M's are going to make Adam Moore sweat a little. Everybody but Josh Bard will be rooting for him, but nothing's going to be handed his way without a fight.