The Cardinals’ search for a backup catcher may well have come to a conclusion, and if it has, the new guy looks a good bit like his predecessors.
According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, Gerald Laird has agreed to a one-year pact with the Redbirds, a move which would continue the club’s long-standing fondness for catch-and-throw backstops. Laird is regarded as an exemplary defensive catcher, but his offense has dipped sharply over the past couple of years.
A club official said via email on Monday night that reports of a done deal with Laird are “news to me.” That does not mean, however, that an agreement is not imminent.
Laird, who turned 31 in November, batted .207 with a .263 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage for the Tigers in 2010. For his career, he has a line of .242/.300/.358, highlighted by a 2006 season with the Rangers in which he hit .296 and slugged .473 in 78 games.
While the Cards had said early in the winter that they were interested in a more offensive-minded backup catcher than what they’ve had in recent years, Laird does fit the team’s desired profile in one other way. He has started at least 76 games behind the plate in each of the past four seasons. The Cardinals would like a backup catcher who can play a little more often than Jason LaRue has played in recent years, allowing Yadier Molina more days off as the season goes along.