The Indians shipped power-hitting catcher Kelly Shoppach to the Rays for a player to be named, who must be identified by Dec. 20. Rookie receivers Carlos Santana and Lou Marson now have a clear path to playing time in Cleveland.
Shoppach is a quality receiver, but power is his calling card. While his playing time has been diminished a bit by playing on the same team with Victor Martinez for four years, he’s made the most of that time. In that 2006-09 period, just five catchers (minimum 1,000 plate appearances) have logged a higher slugging percentage than has Shoppach (.456). And just two—Mike Napoli and Brian McCann—have hit for more isolated power than has Shoppach (.211). Of course, with that power comes lots and lots of strikeouts. Shoppach ranks fifth with 335 whiffs, despite having the fewest PAs in the 31-catcher sample.
UPDATE: The Indians acquired righthander Mitch Talbot to complete the deal (Dec. 21).
Mitch Talbot, rhp
Born: Oct. 17, 1983 in Cedar City, Utah.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Canyon View HS, Cedar City, Utah.
Career Transactions: Selected by Astros in second round of 2002 draft; signed Aug. 20, 2002 … Traded by Astros with SS Ben Zobrist to Devil Rays for 3B Aubrey Huff, July 12, 2006.
The Rays had no room for Talbot, whom they acquired along with a much
bigger prize—Ben Zobrist—in the 2006 Aubrey Huff deal. Talbot spent most of the last three seasons in Durham, posting
consecutive 13-9 seasons in 2007 and ’08 but missing much of ’09 with
elbow soreness. He made six healthy starts in the Arizona Fall
League, going 3-0, 4.37 with 15-6 strikeouts-walks over 23 innings. Talbot has an average fastball that sits at 90-91 mph
and touches 94. He mixes in a slider with cut action that lacks depth,
but he throws it for strikes and keeps it down. When he’s right, he
gets more than his share of groundball outs. Everyone in the ballpark
knows that when Talbot needs to make a pitch, he’s throwing his plus
changeup, and it’s at its best when he’s throwing strikes with the
fastball and slider. He had significant reverse splits in his two full
season in Durham, with lefthanded hitters faring one- to two-hundred points worse than
righthanded hitters against Talbot thanks to that changeup. With Andy
Sonnanstine, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson all competing for the
fifth spot ahead of him in Tampa and Talbot out of options, this is
about as good a deal as Talbot or the Rays could have hoped for.
Kelly Shoppach, c
Age: 29. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 2 arbitration-eligible years remaining until free agency ($1.95 million in ’09).