Results tagged ‘ Gerald Laird ’

Tigers reportedly close to re-signing Laird

The Tigers’ search for a catcher to back up All-Star Alex Avila is apparently leading them back to the catcher who mentored Avila when he first reached the big leagues.

When Gerald Laird and the Tigers parted ways a year ago, Laird was looking for playing time. He ended up as a little-used backup to Yadier Molina in St. Louis this year, but now appears headed back to Detroit. Foxsports.com reports that Laird is close to a deal that would reunite him with the Tigers.

Laird fits the profile of what the Tigers are looking for in a backup. He’s a right-handed hitter with a good amount of experience, good defense and calls a good game. He brings the added bonus of experience working with Tigers pitchers, including Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello for two years.

Laird was the Tigers’ primary catcher in 2009, having been acquired from Texas in a trade for prospects that included Guillermo Moscoso. He batted .225 with four homers and 33 RBIs in 135 games that year for a team that came within a tiebreaker of the AL Central title and had Avila as a late-season call-up. Laird and Avila split time catching in 2010, but Avila got the bulk of the starts down the stretch.

A reunion at this point makes sense. The Tigers went through last year with Victor Martinez backing up Avila, but now don’t want the wear and tear on their designated hitter as he approaches his 33rd birthday next month. Laird hit the market looking for playing time last year, but is now at the stage of his career where he’ll find better opportunities as a No. 2.

– Jason Beck

Laird-Cards could be in works, but may not quite be done

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.
–Matthew Leach

Marlins pursuing John Buck to fill catching void

The Marlins are in need of catching this winter, and they’ll be able to pick from a pretty deep pool of backstops in the open market if they choose to go that route. Based on reports, the catcher they covet most appears to be John Buck.

AOL FanHouse’s Ed Price tweeted Tuesday that the word from other clubs is that the Marlins are “working hard” to sign Buck. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, meanwhile, stated that while Florida still isn’t particularly close on Buck, the club is “definitely interested.”

Buck made $2 million with the Blue Jays last season but is coming off a career year, one that saw him set all-time highs with a .281 batting average, .314 on-base percentage, 20 home runs and 66 RBIs. The 30-year-old also threw out 28 percent of would-be base-stealers in his seventh season, which ranked seventh among Major League catchers who qualified.

The Marlins began last season with a Ronny Paulino-John Baker platoon behind the plate. But Baker is coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season, and Paulino was handed a 50-game suspension last year that he still hasn’t completely served.

Besides Buck, the Marlins have a few other free-agent catchers to choose from, like A.J. Pierzynski, Rod Barajas, Gerald Laird and Bengie Molina (Victor Martinez would likely be outside their price range). 

– Alden Gonzalez

Yankees could be in the market for a catcher

NEW YORK — You can never really rule out any free agent with the Yankees, so even though Jorge Posada is coming back mostly as a designated hitter next year to pave the way for a youngster like Jesus Montero, New York could still pursue a safety net in the open market.

General manager Brian Cashman volunteered that on Thursday, saying he “wouldn’t even close the door on looking out in the marketplace to see if I can secure somebody else out there as a cushion.”

Posada, 39 and coming off knee surgery, will spend most of, if not all of his time at DH in 2011, so it’ll come down to prospects Montero and Austin Romine, as well as backup Francisco Cervelli. Free-agent catching options include A.J. Pierzynski, Rod Barajas, John Buck, Gerald Laird, Matt Treanor and a host of others (you can probably rule the top prize, Victor Martinez, out of the equation, though). 

“We’re certainly not handing a job to anybody,” Cashman said. “We have some serious young, good catching coming. They have to earn it, though. They have to earn it for the next level. No one’s going to be handing anything to anybody.”

Alden Gonzalez

Buck could be Plan B for Red Sox behind the plate

In case the Red Sox can’t resign Victor Martinez — and they’ll certainly give that a concerted effort — one potential option is free-agent catcher John Buck. And according to ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox are “expected to be aggressive in their pursuit” of Buck if Martinez isn’t a possibility.

The Web site named the Tigers, Orioles and Rangers as teams that would go after Martinez. The free-agent pool of catchers is actually pretty deep this year, with Rod Barajas, Ramon Hernandez, Gerald Laird and A.J. Pierzynski among those also in the mix.

If Boston can’t resign Martinez, Jason Varitek would of course have a strong chance of returning also. And there are some who believe perhaps Jarrod Saltalamacchia should be given an opportunity to take the full-time reigns behind the plate. But Buck would be the safer — though more expensive — choice.

After signing a $2 million contract with the Blue Jays last offseason, Buck had a breakout year in 2010, one that saw him set career-highs in batting average (.281), home runs (20) and RBIs (66) while throwing out 28 percent of baserunners (third-highest among AL catchers who qualified).

Alden Gonzalez

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