December 13, 2011 at 11:27 AM
|Kelly Shoppach (Elsa/Getty Images)|
As Jerry Crasnick first reported, the Red Sox have signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a one-year guaranteed deal worth $1.35 million, which is expected to be announced later today. Last season for Tampa Bay, Shoppach hit .176/.286/.339 with 11 home runs over 87 games, although he hit much better against left-handed pitching both last season (.241/.344/.444) and historically (.274/.373/.536), making him a very good potential platoon partner with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Shoppach's baseball life now comes full circle, returning to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2001 amateur draft. He began his career in 2002 at High-A and advanced up to Triple-A in 2004. He made his major league debut in 2005, going hitless in 15 at-bats for the Sox. Before the 2006 season, he was traded to Cleveland along with Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Randy Newsom, and cash in return for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard. Shoppach peaked at number 3 on the SoxProspects.com rankings in early 2004, and was ranked in the site's top 10 from its inception until his trade to Cleveland. He was voted a SoxProspects.com All-Star after the 2005 season by members of the site's forum.
The signing of Shoppach most likely means that Ryan Lavarnway will start the year at Triple-A Pawtucket, where his focus will be on improving his defense. The signing also likely means the end of Jason Varitek's fifteen-year career with the Red Sox, over which he hit .256/.341/.435 over 1,546 games.