The Arizona Diamondbacks have added to what may be the majors' thinnest catching crop, signing veteran backstop Gerald Laird to a minor-league deal, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The contract also includes an invitation to big league Spring Training
A 12-year veteran, the 35-year-old Laird was originally drafted in the second round of the 1998 draft by the Athletics, and later dealt to the Rangers, where he would make his major league debut in 2003, and spend the next six seasons. In 798 games with the Rangers, Tigers, Cardinals, and Braves, Laird has been a fairly competent backup catcher, hitting .244/.305/.353 for a 74 OPS+ and 6.6 WAR during his career. Laird was impressive with the Braves in 2013, posting a 106 OPS+, but fell back last season, hitting only .204/.275/.257 with a -0.5 WAR in 53 games with Atlanta.
Earlier this winter, Diamondbacks' GM Dave Stewart stated that the club was not going to pursue adding another catcher, however, that notion now appears to have been nothing more than a facade.
Laird joins an utterly disastrous crew of catchers in Arizona that was left barren when the club dealt longtime backstop Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs in December. The group already includes Tuffy Gosewisch, Matt Pagnozzi, and Rule 5 selection Oscar Hernandez. Gosewisch figures to be the starter entering the season, but is just a .213/.225/.287 hitter in 179 major league plate appearances. Meanwhile, Hernandez has yet to play above A-ball, where he wasn't exactly stellar with the bat. The Diamondbacks also have Peter O'Brien, but, at this point, he is more of a catcher in name only, likely slated to land at first base or in a corner outfield position. So, it stands to reason, that barring another acquisition, Laird figures to be in line to log a considerable amount of playing time in 2015.