Dodgers signal they won't bring back Rod Barajas
The Dodgers opened their arms to youth last season, and it mostly paid off. Now they apparently are ready to go young behind the plate.
In a lengthy Q&A with Jim Bowden posted on ESPN.com, General Manager Ned Colletti said:
"Behind the plate, we'll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties. They are both good catch-and-throw receivers. If Federowicz can hit .240 with some power, he can be an everyday catcher. He calls a really good game and has a strong arm. The free-agent catching market is very thin, but we'll look there as well just in case."
That would be a serious roll of the dice. Federowicz was at double A when the Dodgers picked him up before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. Ellis has looked very capable in stretches the last two seasons as the backup.
The burly catcher pretty much gave the Dodgers what they should have expected last season, when they signed him to a one-year deal for $3.25 million after they were unable to come to terms with Russell Martin.
In 305 at-bats, Barajas hit .230 with 16 home runs (second on the team) and 47 runs batted in, and he had a .430 slugging percentage.
At 30, Ellis is no kid but seems to be an improving hitter, and his defense is well-regarded. Federowicz comes with a reputation as excellent behind the plate, and still coming offensively.
As a September call-up, Federowicz got only 13 at-bats (three hits, none for extra bases), so it's impossible to make a definitive assessment, though he did not appear major league ready with the bat. In 83 at-bats in the rarified air of Albuquerque, he hit .325 with six home runs, 17 RBIs and a .627 slugging percentage.
Counting on the inexperienced Federowicz as your everyday catcher is risky stuff. A little too risky for a team built around pitching. As Colletti noted, there's not much out there on the market, though a Barajas-Ellis tandem sounds more practical to at least start the season.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images