The Seattle Mariners were surprisingly not bad in 2012. They weren't surprisingly good. They weren't good. They were simply surprisingly not bad. As they continue their offseason, the Mariners are still looking for a catcher and looking to "clear things up about their starting pitching." Kelly Shoppach appears to be the obvious free agent candidate for the M's, but the pitching candidate is anyone's guess.
ESPN Insider Jason Churchill had the updates about the Mariners and their offseason plans going forward.
M's making significant progress with free agent catcher, I'm told.— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) January 28, 2013
it's not Barajas, Snyder or Schneider... leaves Shoppach. Played for Wedge in Cle.— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) January 28, 2013
Also hearing Seattle "clearing things up" with their search for a starting pitcher. May mean a target is headed elsewhere or M's adding.— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) January 28, 2013
If the Mariners do go after Kelly Shoppach, they would be getting themselves an experienced catcher, but not someone who is going to hit for a high average. Shoppach is 32 years old and has been in the league for eight seasons. He spent time with the Boston Red Sox (twice), Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, and the New York Mets. As Churchill mentioned, Shoppach got to know current Mariners' manager Eric Wedge while both were in Cleveland.
Shoppach has a career .226/.314/.418 line. However, in recent years Shoppach's line has gotten worse. He posted a the following batting averages in his last three seasons before 2012: .214, .196, .176. He has struggled, but he can call a game. Shoppach is generally thought of as a good defensive catcher who can handle his pitchers well.
The Mariners found themselves in need of a new catcher when they traded away John Jaso as part of a three-team deal with the Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals. The Nationals sent Michael Morse to Seattle while getting their former prospect A.J. Cole back from the A's, and the Mariners sent Jaso to Oakland. Seattle hopes Morse's offense can help ease the blow of losing Jaso behind the plate.
As for the pitching part of this equation, the team could look to make another trade or choose someone from the dwindling list of free agents left on the market. Whoever they go after is not expected to be a front-line starter.