Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Largely lost in all the Hill kerfuffle yesterday, was the news that the Diamondbacks have re-signed an old face. Catcher Rod Barajas has been given a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Rod Barajas made his debut with Arizona in our sophomore season,. all the way back in 1999, and appeared in 211 games over the next five seasons. He started Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, and homered in the fifth inning off Mike Mussina, to give Arizona a 2-0 lead [though we know how that all ended...] I think he and Miguel Batista are the only players remaining from that roster who are still active in baseball. Since becoming a free agent at the end of the 2003 season, Barajas has played for six different franchises, most recently appearing in 104 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Even though Barajas didn't exactly set the plate on fire there, hitting .206, with a 75 OPS+, it does create competition for the back-up catcher spot. That must have come as a nasty shock to Wil Nieves. He could have been forgiven for thinking that all he had to do to lock down an Opening Day roster spot, was get through spring training with a count of functioning limbs beyond three. Now, he's competing with someone who had more plate-appearances in 2012, than Wil had over the past three major-league seasons combined. Making it even more uncomfortable for him, both Nieves and Barajas will earn the same amount, $800 K, for whoever makes the roster.
Neither contract is guaranteed. As Nick Piecoro reported, "If at the end of spring training, the Diamondbacks decide to go with Barajas over Nieves, they could release Nieves and then owe him just 45 days of pay, which would amount to $200,000." The incumbent backup catcher is about two years younger, but Barajas has 800 more games experience and generally better offensive numbers. Though it'll likely come down to which one impresses Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers most in Cactus League play.
That said, it would be kinda cool to have a member of the 2001 World Series winning team on the roster - providing it's not the start of some attempt to put the band back together...