The Arizona Diamond backs have signed veteran backstop Rod Barajas to a minor league contract as first reported by Nick Piecoro of AZCentral Sports. The 37 year old Barajas will earn $800,000 if he makes the MLB team and Piecoro believes he will compete with Wil Nieves for the backup catcher’s job behind starter Miguel Montero.
Barajas played 104 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, hitting .206/.283/.343 in 361 plate appearances. This will mark his second tour with Arizona as he started his major league career with the Diamondbacks in 1999. He played his first five seasons with Arizona before moving on to the Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets and the Dodgers. He has never been much at the plate, which has limited him to a part-time role, but he does have some home run power and his defensive skills have kept him employed regularly for 14 seasons to this point.
In his prime, Barajas was known for his ability to control the running, consistently throwing out would-be base stealers at an above average level. In recent years, he has regressed to basically league average. While his arm may not be what it once was, Barajas has the reputation for be good at handling pitching staffs and that could be a great help to the young rotation in Arizona. Additionally, recent work in the field of catcher pitch framing rates him highly in that dark art.
With Montero giving the Diamondbacks a superior hitting catcher, Barajas makes sense for them as a back-up.