By John Boyle
Given the big Mariners news of the day, it isn’t the announcement Mariners fans are waiting for, but the M’s did make official the signing of catcher Kelly Shoppach.
To make room for Shoppach on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Shawn Kelley has been designated for assignment.
The deal was first reported last week, so it hardly comes as a surprise, but adding Shoppach, while not huge news, was a move the Mariners needed to make. Up until now, Seattle had only one catcher, Jesus Montero, on the big league roster. Montero will catch more games this season than the 56 he did as a rookie, but no catcher, especially one still learning the nuances of the position, can be counted on to catch every game.
Mike Zunino, last year’s first-round pick, appears to be on the fast track to the big leagues, but until he gets there, Seattle needs a second (and perhaps third?) catcher.
And that brings us to Shoppach, an eight-year veteran who played 76 games last season with the Red Sox and Mets. Shoppach, 32, is a career .226 hitter and has hit 67 home runs in 536 career games. He may not be a big-name addition to the Mariners, but he provides much-needed depth behind the plate.