The Dodgers for the second time this week have paid a shocking amount of money to a OBP-challenged power hitter at a defensive premium position. Earlier in the week it was three years, $21 million for the career .300 (really .2998) OBP of Juan Uribe, and now the Dodgers have paid catcher Rod Barajas $3.25 million for his services in 2011, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.
This quote from general manager Ned Colletti nicely encapsulates this week's worth of Dodger transactions:
"Much like Juan Uribe, we’ve seen that Rod can change the game with one swing and he’s a veteran catcher who knows how to handle a pitching staff. We’re looking forward to having him back with the team next season."
Rod Barajas had a great 25 games as a Dodger, hitting .297/.361/.578 with five home runs and 13 RBI. In those 25 games and 70 plate appearances, he matched the home run total of all other Dodger catchers combined in 578 PA (all five were hit by Russell Martin). However, it's important to consider that while Barajas had nice counting stats on the year (17 homers, 47 RBI), his OBP was still just .284, which matches his career OBP. I would say the bottom of the Dodger batting order next year will be full of automatic outs, but that's assuming the low OBPs of Barajas and Uribe will even be at the bottom of the order.
Barajas, like Hyman Roth, played this one beautifully. The Norwalk native loved playing at home, and all indications pointed to him returning to the Dodgers. However, Barajas wisely waited until the Dodgers decided what to do with Martin first. With Martin, Barajas was the backup, but without him, and with free agents John Buck, Yorvit Torrealba, A.J. Pierzynski, and the like signing elsewhere, Barajas had more leverage as the Dodgers' options dwindled. Then, literally minutes after Martin was non-tendered, the Barajas deal was first reported.
I'm shocked by the dollar amount, to be honest. Barajas made $500,000 last year, plus incentives (for a total of $1.4 million, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com), and I figured he would get something like $2 million at most to return to the Dodgers. The payroll worksheet has been updated with the Barajas deal. Say what you will about the Dodgers, but they haven't been cheap this offseason. Have they been wise? We'll find out...