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Arizona Diamondbacks sign Hank Conger to minor-league deal

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Catcher Hank Conger, who played for the Rays last year, has signed a minor-league deal for the Diamondbacks, with an invitation to spring training.

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SB Nation's Chris Cotillo was the first to report the deal, which is worth $950K if he makes the big-league roster, and up to another $450K in incentives. However, he'll have to make his way through traffic to get there, since the D-backs will have about 5.5 catchers, either on the 40-man roster or as non-roster invitees to spring training. There will also be Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis, Oscar Hernandez and Chris Herrmann (the point five!) in the former category, along with Conger and Josh Thole as non-roster invitees.So the odds are likely against this ending up costing the team much; it would not surprise me if Conger has an opt-out clause.

The 29-year-old Conger has never been a great hitter, possessing a career batting average of .221, over seven years and 373 games in the majors. All told, his triple-slash - or the Conger line, if you prefer [hohoho] is .221/.294/.366, but last year in Tampa, he struggled and fell short of even that. He fell below the Uecker Line, hitting .194, for an OPS+ of 58. But even there - and this is becoming a definite trend in terms of Mike Hazen signings - his walk rate remained better than major-league average. He's also a decent pitch-framer, though has struggled with the running game, throwing out stealers only 19% of the time.

After Iannetta, Mathis and Thole, Conger - whose given name is Hyun Choi - will be the fourth catcher signed by Hazen this winter - and that's not even including Juan Graterol, who both came to and went from the D-backs on waivers. If the mantra in the Kevin Towers era was "All the shortstops!", it appears the early going in the Hazen era can be summarized as "All the catchers!" I think it's very much going to be a case of throwing them at the wall and seeing what sticks - not just on offense, but also in terms of working with the pitching staff during spring training.