It should be no surprise that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be interested in trading Ryan Doumit. The Pirates have two major league catchers who showed they were capable of holding down the position without Doumit last season. The Pirates used their 2009 first round pick on Tony Sanchez, a catcher who is expected to rise quickly through the minor league system. The writing is pretty much on the wall for Doumit.
Some may be surprised that a Doumit trade is now seeing rumors so soon. Ken Rosenthal is reporting such rumors
, saying that several teams showed interest in Doumit at the General Manager meetings this week, and that the Pirates would be interested for the right price. Seeing as how this is the team that dealt Nate McLouth for three promising prospects, I don’t doubt the Pirates would trade Doumit.
It makes sense to trade Doumit this year. The free agent market is very weak. The best catcher on the market is Bengie Molina, who is 35 years old. Miguel Olivo is coming off a good year, but looking at the rest of his career, that year looks to be a fluke. Everyone else who is potentially available is either a backup, or washed up. A team looking for a catcher would certainly value Doumit in this market, especially since he’s under contract for several years at a reasonable rate.
As for the Pirates, they have the luxury of two replacement catchers in Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz. Jaramillo is better than the majority of the free agents on the market this year. Diaz showed he can be a good backup in his time in the majors in 2009. Most importantly, the long term job belongs to Tony Sanchez, which means it’s only a matter of time before a Doumit trade takes place. So why not in a year where his value is high, even following a down season for Doumit?
Rosenthal mentions that the Rays, Giants, and Mariners are good matches, although he doesn’t say that those teams were the teams expressing interest. I find it hard to imagine the Giants are interested, as Buster Posey is their catcher of the future. That would be like the Pirates trading for a third baseman right now, with Alvarez set to be in the majors by June. The Rays might be an option, but they’ve been stingy with prospects in the past, so it’s hard to believe they’d give up what the Pirates would want for Doumit. The Mariners just cut ties with Kenji Johjima, although they have Adam Moore close to the majors, rated their number five prospect going in to the 2009 season.
An idea I had involved the Rays. Tampa Bay is looking to get rid of Pat Burrell’s contract, which has one year and $9 M remaining. Burrell had a down year in 2009, with a .221/.315/.367 line and 14 homers in 412 at-bats. However, from 2006-2008 Burrell combined for a .254/.385/.504 line, with about 30 homers per season. It’s not out of the question to think that Burrell could bounce back to those numbers for one more season. If the Pirates took on Burrell’s salary, they might be able to get a good return from Tampa Bay, perhaps someone like Reid Brignac and some pitching prospects.
Burrell could play first base in 2010, moving Garrett Jones to right field, and giving Jose Tabata plenty of time in AAA to develop a power stroke. Burrell came up as a first baseman in 2000 with the Phillies, before moving to left field where his defense has been atrocious the last few years. The Pirates would also have a solution to their shortstop issues by adding Brignac, plus they’d get some pitching prospects (I like Joe Cruz in the South Atlantic League). The total cost would be about $5.5 M extra, and they’d solve their 1B/RF and shortstop issues in one move, all for a drop off from Doumit to Jaramillo.
Of course this will probably never happen, but it’s nice to think about. What might happen is that Doumit could get traded this off-season. What most certainly will happen is that Doumit will be the center of every rumor involving the Pirates, and any team looking for a catcher. I guess we’ll have an interesting off-season to follow.