Spoke briefly with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik earlier this afternoon about an unrelated matter, but then asked him about Kelly Shoppach and whether he was about to sign him.
“We’re still going through our final discussions on that,” Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik seemed to suggest a deal was coming soon.
The Mariners want Shoppach to take a physical before any deal is announced and would then have to clear a roster spot for him if indeed it’s going to be a major league contract. You can count on that latter part being the case because talks on a minor league deal would not have dragged out this long.
Shoppach, who turns 33 in April, enjoyed his best seasons under current manager Eric Wedge when the two were in Cleveland together from 2006 to 2009. Last season, in 245 plate appearances with the Red Sox and the Mets, Shoppach hit .233 with a .309 on-base and .425 slugging percentage.
The eventual signing of Shoppach leads you to believe that the Mariners expect catcher Mike Zunino to be up with the big club sooner rather than later. Shoppach hasn’t had more than 253 plate appearances since 2009 while Jesus Montero did little last season to show he could be counted on full-time behind the plate.
The two together could theoretically get through a couple of months — much as John Jaso and Montero did for five weeks last season when Miguel Olivo was injured. But I doubt the plan is to pair the two of them for an entire season.
At this rate, my money would be on Zunino getting called up by June, once Super Two arbitration worries can be put to rest.