The Oakland A's now have four catchers on their 40-man roster, as the team announced on Friday that they had claimed Chris Gimenez off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Gilroy native has 143 games of experience at the big league level.
Gimenez joins John Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt as catchers on the A's 40-man roster. Oakland also re-signed catcher Luke Montz to a minor league deal this off-season. Montz played briefly for the A's during the 2013 season. Jaso, Vogt and Gimenez have all spent time in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
After three seasons at Nevada, Gimenez was selected in the 19th round of the 2004 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He spent six seasons in the Indians organization, making his major league debut with the Indians in 2009. Gimenez spent the 2010 season split between Cleveland and Triple-A. He joined the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and appeared in 24 games with Seattle. Gimenez was part of the Rays' organization for the past two seasons. His career line in 380 major league at-bats is .199/.292/.293.
In 2013, Gimenez spent most of the season with Triple-A Durham. He hit .224 with a .350 OBP and three homeruns in 95 games for the Bulls. Gimenez appeared in four games for the Rays, and he had a hit and a walk in three at-bats.
Like many players on the A's 40-man roster, Gimenez offers defensive versatility. He has primarily been a catcher throughout his career, but Gimenez also has experience playing in right and left fields, as well as first and third base. In fact, he was an infielder when he turned pro and learned to catch in the minor leagues.
Gimenez showed power early in his minor league career, hitting 26 homers in a 2007 season split between High-A and Double-A. Since then, his power numbers have declined significantly, although he did post a .483 SLG at the Triple-A level in 2012. Gimenez has always had a good eye at the plate and his career minor league OBP is .375.
The A's 40-man roster was filled on Thursday when the team acquired OF Corey Brown from the Washington Nationals. UPDATE: A few hours after they announced their claim of Gimenez, the A's also announced that they had released LHP Pedro Figueroa to make room on the 40-man roster.
Figueroa has been with the A's organization since signing as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in November 2003. The hard-throwing southpaw was a starter for much of his minor league career, but he was moved to the bullpen in 2012 after missing most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
In 2012, Figueroa had an outstanding season with Triple-A Sacramento, posting a 2.62 ERA and a 40:18 K:BB in 44.2 innings. He made his major league debut with the A's in 2012 and had a 3.32 ERA in 21.2 innings, although his K:BB was 14:15. In 2013, Figueroa struggled with his command with Sacramento, walking 33 in 59.1 innings. He appeared in five games with the A's, allowing four runs in three innings.
Figueroa should draw some interest. He has struggled with command for much of his career, but he has a mid-90s fastball that can touch 97 and a hard slider that is a swing-and-miss put-away pitch. He turned 28 in late November.
The A's also announced that they had agreed to terms with 1B Daric Barton, avoiding arbitration. The deal is non-guaranteed, meaning that if the A's cut Barton during spring training, they will only owe him a portion of the overall deal.