As first reported by Jerry Crasnick at ESPN, former Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach has signed a 1 year, $1.35 million deal to return to his very first team, the Boston Red Sox.
There's no real way around it: the Kelly Shoppach gamble was a flop. While the Rays didn't give up a valuable player when they traded for him from the Indians -- Mitch Talbot is now pitching on a whole other continent, as a matter of fact -- Shoppach didn't provide the Rays with the offensive upgrade at catcher that they were hoping for. As analyst R.J. Anderson noted on Twitter, Shoppach's production with the Rays (4% below average offensively) nearly mirrors what Dioner Navarro contibuted to the Rays before him (6% below average). He was a valuable hitter against left-handed pitchers, but his overall offensive contributions ended up being underwhelming.
This move likely means that the Rays are set to open the season with Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton as the two catchers on their roster. Both Molina and Lobaton have reputations as excellent defensive catchers, an area where they'll surely be an upgrade over Kelly Shoppach and John Jaso, but their offense will likely be meager at best.
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