From the official press release:
photo via cache.gettyimages.com
The Chicago Cubs and catcher Paul Bako have agreed to terms on a 2009 contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Bako, 36, last season set career highs with 30 runs scored, 35 RBI and six home runs in 99 games with the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .217 (65-for-299) with 11 doubles and two triples. He owns a career .231 batting average (482-for-2086) with 94 doubles, 21 home runs and 186 RBI in 745 big league games. Bako’s .305 career on-base percentage is 74 points higher than his career batting average.
The left-handed hitter rejoins the Cubs organization after spending his first 11 major league seasons with 10 different clubs, including two years with the Cubs from 2003-04. He broke into the big leagues with the Tigers in 1998 and has also played for the Astros (1999-2000), Marlins (2000), Braves (2000-01), Brewers (2002), Cubs (2003-04), Dodgers (2005), Royals (2006), Orioles (2007) and Reds (2008).
The contract was supposed to be, according to rumors the last couple of weeks, for $500,000. That sounds about right. Note the spin in the press release, saying Bako "set career highs" last year. Sure, but he still had a pretty bad offensive season, hitting .217/.299/.328.
He's always been a pretty bad hitter, even when he was the backup catcher for two pretty good Cubs teams in 2003 and 2004. His value has always been his defense. It's not likely to be improving, but Lou has his heart set on a lefthanded hitting backup to Geovany Soto. Now he has three in camp -- Bako, Koyie Hill (a switch-hitter) and Mark Johnson. Since Bako will join the 40-man roster, he'll be the favorite to win the job.