Make no mistake about it, by signing Miguel Olivo to a 2-year, $7 million contract this afternoon, the Seattle Mariners are sending the catcher that finished the season as the team’s everyday starter — Adam Moore — a clear and concise message that you have to earn what you are given.
Olivo, 32, a former Mariner who came over from the White Sox in the ’05 Freddy Garcia deal, hit .269/.315/.449 with 14 HRs in 427 plate appearances last season for the Colorado Rockies. He also caught over 900 innings and threw out over 40% of would-be basestealers.
But it is still Moore, 25, who is the Mariners plan to hold down the No. 1 catching job no matter what the contract difference says (Moore will make around $500K next season).
He has been groomed to be the next franchise catcher for this team since he was taken in the sixth round of the 2006 MLB draft. He’s succeeded at every level short of the majors, including posting a .300+ avg in AAA. It’s that big league level that has so far been a struggle for Moore.
Last year in 60 games/205 ABs, Moore batted .195/.230/.283 with 4 HRs which of course is terrible. But as a young catcher, defense and calling of the game is the first priority. And all indications are that Moore made tremendous strides in each area. The pitchers led by Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, trust him. His defense is enormously better than it was in ’09 when he was called up and for that we must look at all the work he’s put in with Roger Hansen, the team’s catching developer.
Moore has been down in Arizona since November getting ready for spring training. He’s working hard. He knows that he has to improve in all areas of his game and that’s exactly what he’s continually striving to do day-in and day-out.
The Mariners were going to add another catcher one way or another. Every team carries a minimum of two catchers on there 25-man roster throughout the season. Now we know that guy is Olivo. Who owns the starting job remains completely and utterly undetermined.
Spring training will decide that. And everyone, especially the Mariners coaching staff and front office, hope that it is Moore that earns that job.