According to Yahoo! Sports, the San Francisco Giants have reached an agreement to bring back catcher Eli Whiteside to a one-year deal of $600,000 if he is on the major league roster, and $175,000 if he is in the minors.
The 32-year-old has played in the majors for four seasons with the Giants and the Baltimore Orioles – a total of 196 games in those four seasons.
This is a pretty useless signing in my opinion. A career backup catcher with a combined -1 WAR, and a .218 batting average. He can play a little defense, he caught a no-hitter, and he has a World Series ring, but that doesn’t make him a necessity to the Giants.
His highest OPS+ of his career was 89 back in 2010 – his career year. Other than that, his average OPS+ per 162 games is a mere 67.
What I don’t like most about this signing is that it is pointless. The Giants have a pretty good catcher, Hector Sanchez, in the minors, yearning to make it as a backup catcher to Buster Posey. Sanchez, 22, has played just four seasons of pro ball, but he has shown he can handle the bat and the glove behind the dish.
Last year, he played in 98 games with the single-A San Jose Giants and the triple-A Fresno Grizzlies hitting 12 home runs and 84 RBI posting a .780 OPS (his minor league average OPS is .815).
He also can run the bases as he has stolen 192 bases in 291 attempts. He played in 13 games last year for the Giants and his 10 stolen bases in 31 at-bats were impressive to watch.
The Giants also have catcher Chris Stewart in their organization, who also saw time on the big league roster. Stewart is almost the same player as Whiteside, but three years younger and about half the amount of big league experience. They posted almost identical OPS+ last year (67 and 68), but Stewart has better defensive numbers than Whiteside (dWAR 0.6 to Whiteside’s dWAR of -0.3).
I know Whiteside had been a large part of filling in for the injured Posey last year, but the Giants already have acceptable, younger replacements in their organization. I do like how the Giants front office didn’t over pay for him, as $600,000 for a big leaguer is a cheap deal, but that money should have been stored in that “rainy day fund” Larry Baer keeps blabbering about.
All three catchers will be competing for a 25-man roster spot in the spring, and for some terrible reason, I think Whiteside may just take it.