The Seattle Mariners have signed free agent catcher Ronny Paulino to a Minor League deal that will give him a shot at making the team in Spring Training. The agreement was made official on Friday (Jan. 25), when Paulino passed a physical to finalize the contract offer.
This isn't a signing that will cause many waves among the fan base, but it gives the Mariners another option for the back-up catcher slot this season. After trading away John Jaso to the Oakland Athletics in the Michael Morse acquisition, it left the roster short on catchers. Now Paulino will have the chance to become Jesus Montero's back-up in 2013.
It seems pretty clear that the Mariners are looking at Mike Zunino to make his way through Triple-A very quickly, because he and Montero appear to be the only catchers in the long-term plans for the franchise. It's certainly possible that Zunino could perform well enough in Spring Training 2013 to get an early promotion, but having another option is definitely a smart move.
The decision to head into the regular season with Jesus Montero as the full-time catcher might worry some Seattle Mariners fans, as he wasn't impressive on defense last season. He will get every chance to prove himself now, though, especially with Jaso getting traded away. Now Ronny Paulino will try to prove he still has something left in the tank.
During his time in Major League Baseball, Paulino has spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, and New York Mets. Last season he spent time with the Baltimore Orioles, appearing in just 20 games and posting a .254 batting average. He didn't receive a lot of interest in the offseason, which is why the Minor League contract was acceptable to him.
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