Olivo signing official … finally
Yeah, this one feels like old news. The Mariners announced the official signing of catcher Miguel Olivo on Monday, 25 days after the veteran free agent agreed to terms on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
But this one got hung up in the paperwork stages, first when Olivo didn’t come to Seattle for his physical for two weeks and then in recent days because the Major League Baseball offices pretty much shut down after the Christmas holidays.
Once business as usual resumed Monday, the Mariners put a bow on the Olivo deal and announced the two-year deal, with a club option for a third season in 2013.
While some eyebrows have been raised about bringing back a catcher who struggled to hit in Safeco Field in his first stint with the Mariners in 2004-05, I like this deal. Olivo should upgrade the catching position and provide a veteran presence behind the plate, no small factor with a club featuring a number of youthful pitching prospects.
When you’re working in guys like Michael Pineda, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke and even Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, it doesn’t hurt to have a catcher who has more than the minimal big-league experience that Adam Moore and Rob Johnson brought last year.
Olivo also adds a little pop to a lineup that needs all that it can get. Over the last two seasons, Olivo is tied for fifth among Major League catchers with 37 home runs. Over the past five years, he’s fifth among big-league catchers with 81 home runs.
Will he produce the same numbers at Safeco? Probably not as a right-handed hitter. But I also don’t expect him to struggle nearly as much as he did as a youngster.
The Mariners are going with more youth next season, but it makes sense to sprinkle in veterans in critical places to help with the building process. Having one young catcher in Moore is great. Having two inexperienced catchers, as was attempted last year, didn’t work so well.
The Mariners designated relief pitcher Anthony Varvaro for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. That one seemed predictable, given the 26-year-old has struggled with his control and didn’t seem destined for a bullpen spot this coming season. Varvaro likely winds up back in Tacoma, but we’ll have to wait the obligatory 10 days to see how that plays out.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)