Franklin Gutierrez wasn’t the only former Cleveland Indian to receive an extension yesterday. Rays’ catcher Kelly Shoppach, acquired in early December, agreed to terms with his new club as well, signing at $5.5M over two seasons. Eligible for his second year of salary arbitration, Shoppach forwent the potential for more money in exchange for security. For their part, the Rays lock Shoppach in at a set rate and hold a club option over Shoppach for the 2012 season, taking away Shoppach’s first year of free agency.
Shoppach, who turns 30 in late April, has received sparse playing time over the past three seasons, spending most of his time on the bench while observing Victor Martinez. When he did play, he hit well; .245/.336/.467 with 40 home runs in 907 plate appearances. The knack on Shoppach is a large amount of empty swings, as detailed by his career 64.6% contact rate. Pitchfx data reveals that Shoppach has issues with anything that bends or curves. Last season he whiffed on close to a quarter of the sliders he faced, almost a third of change-ups, and almost a-fifth of curveballs. Such issues help explain his 37.3% strikeout rate throughout his career.
A modest walk rate and the ability for bleacher treats* are Shoppach’s two best qualities, right alongside being able to catch at a Major League competency. There are questions about just how well he catches — which does affect his value beyond the WAR figure we produce – however he is a league average hitter from the catcher position which makes him valuable despite his flaws. Heading forward, he should be around a two-win player. Wins are going for about $3.5M this off-season, meaning if Shoppach does produce at that level he’ll be worth two years worth of salary in one season.
As for the option, its cost is a little over $4M, bringing the total to three-years and $9.5M. There’s not much downside here for either side.
*As the Rays press release was quick to point out, Shoppach has hit as many home runs as Joe Mauer over the past two seasons and only eight fewer than the A.L.’s leader in catcher homers, Mike Napoli.
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