Rivera has been taken off the 40-man roster. Butera is still on the 40, but considering how poorly he performed both at the plate and behind it -- he had seven passed balls, which is a lot for someone who (a) caught less than half his team's innings and (b) wasn't dealing with a knuckleballer -- his job is hardly secure.
|A meeting early in the season|
between two subjects of
this post: Ryan Doumit
tags out Jose Morales.
Jose Morales was traded after the 2010 season to Colorado, a move that opened a roster spot to re-sign Carl Pavano. (The minor league pitcher acquired in the the deal, Paul Bargas, was found during spring training to have a brain tumor; in a season marked by a seemingly endless string of health issues, Bargas' was simultanously the lowest profile and the worst.) Morales opened the season as the Rockies back-up catcher, but he fractured his thumb and was limited to just 22 games, 71 plate appearances. He didn't play anywhere, majors or minors, after June.
Colorado outrighted Morales earlier this month. He's 28, he's had plenty of injuries, he's out of options, he doesn't have a great defensive reputation, he doesn't have much power -- but he's a good contact hitter, especially left-handed (he's a switch hitter).
Will the Twins bring him back? I doubt it, if only because it would imply an admission of error in choosing him over Butera. Still, if they want a low-cost bat-first catcher, he's a possibility.
Two other guys, likely to be pricier than Morales (or Butera), who caught my eye last month are Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, both now of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pittsburgh GM has said that he is unlikely to pick up the options on either man.
Doumit is a good hitter -- not just a good hitter for a catcher, but a good hitter, period. As a catcher, he's pretty brutal, and the Pirates ran him out in right field and first base some last season before he went down with an injury, which isn't unusual for him (he's spent time on the DL every season since 2006).
I think the switch hitter would be particularly attractive if the Twins lose both Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel in free agency; Doumit could be used to DH, back up Mauer and play some right field (or first bas) as well. He'll turn 31 in April.
Snyder isn't as good a hitter as Doumit but is a superior defender. He'll turn 31 in February. His problem: He had back surgery during the season. He is said to be recovering well, but catching is tough on backs.
These are three different types of catcher. I would think the Twins would be more interested in somebody like Snyder is they fear Mauer can't catch 130 times in 2012. Doumit would make sense if the Twins want to carry Butera as a defensive catcher, freeing Doumit to DH or play other positions. And Morales, or his ilk, would be a bat-first backup.
And, of course, cost matters.