The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with Kelly Shoppach on a minor league deal, and have assigned him to Indianapolis. Shoppach has spent time this year with Seattle and Washington, before being released on July 31st by the Nationals. He hit for a .196/.293/.346 line in 107 at-bats with Seattle in the majors, which is well below the .782-.865 OPS at the height of his career, or even his career .726 OPS.
The Pirates have needed catching depth with Michael McKenry out for the season. They will obviously keep Tony Sanchez as the backup, but Shoppach will be number three on the depth chart, and most likely will receive a September call-up. He has always been connected to the Pirates due to his days in Cleveland, and the rumors that the Pirates tried to acquire him as part of a Jason Bay trade in the 2007-08 off-season. He doesn’t have the offense he did back then, but he should be a good option as a third catcher for the rest of the season.
UPDATE 4:15 PM: Thoughts from James Santelli…
Other than some reps in September, you won’t have to worry about Kelly Shoppach unless Tony Sanchez or Russell Martin gets hurt. But given that catchers get banged up, the possibility was real enough that Pirates general manager Neal Huntington went bargain-hunting after Michael McKenry was lost for the season.
If Shoppach, 33, makes an appearance for Pittsburgh, it would represent his 6th Major League team since 2009. He does not offer too much offensively, hitting .200 with a bit of power since his career year of 21 home runs and 27 doubles in 2008 for the Cleveland Indians.
Defensively, there is a lot more to like. He throws out 35 percent of base stealers, one of the better marks in baseball, and he rates well as a pitch framer. He rates as a minus in blocking the plate, but is overall a positive asset behind the plate. If Shoppach needs to start a game or two, it would not be a Barajas-esque disaster for the Pirates.