Non-Tender Candidates: Catcher

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

The Cubs will likely be looking for a backup catcher in 2013. Here are some guys who might fit the bill.

I think it would be one of the strangest marriages in recent baseball history if the Cubs signed free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski away from the White Sox. He's one of the most hated opposition players in recent memory; he's also someone you'd love to have on your side because he always does everything it takes to win.

The problem, of course, is that A.J. is coming off the best year of his career, setting career highs in all kinds of categories, and he's going to want to cash in. You can't blame him for that, but the Cubs aren't really in the market for a 36-year-old catcher.

Plus, the Cubs have a catcher -- Welington Castillo -- who appears to be a competent major-league hitter. If he can improve his pitch-calling, pitch-framing and other defense, he'll be a good major-league catcher.

Which means the Cubs need a backup, since Anthony Recker is already gone and Steve Clevenger spent most of 2012 hitting at Koyie Hill level. Actually, he was worse; after his return from the DL Clevenger hit .164/.229/.220 with one HR and 14 RBI in 177 AB. In Hill's last full year as the Cubs' backup, 2011, he hit .194/.268/.276 with two HR and nine RBI in 134 AB. If Hill had hit like Clevenger's 2012 in 2011, the drumbeat here to get rid of him would have been even louder than it was.

The good news is that via MLB Trade Rumors' list of non-tender candidates, we have several decent backup catchers who might be available after the contract-tender deadline of November 30.

John Baker: He's 32 in January and hit .238/.310/.280 for the Padres -- and those numbers are skewed (.181/.267/.234 at Petco, .293/.352/.323 on the road in an almost equal number of at-bats). He has a career OPS+ of 92.

Jesus Flores: He's been a backup for the Nationals for most of the last six years, and in 2012 hit .213/.248/.329. His age might work in his favor: he just turned 28.

George Kottaras: The Brewers could have used him, but inexplicably sent him to the Athletics at the trading deadline in 2012. He doesn't have much of a lifetime BA (.220), but walks enough to have a decent OBP (.320) and hits home runs (24 in 592 lifetime AB), for a career SLG of .412. Kottaras will be 30 in May.

Brayan Pena: A backup for the Royals the last four years, Pena had the worst offensive season of his career in 2012, with an OPS+ of 60. He'll turn 31 in January.

Taylor Teagarden: Once a pretty good prospect in the Rangers organization, Teagarden simply has not hit at the major-league level (.211/.277/.403 in 407 at-bats). He'll be 29 next month and is first-time arb-eligible, which is why the Orioles are likely to non-tender him.

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