The Baltimore Orioles have added another veteran catcher to the mix.
With only two catchers currently on the 40-man roster, it has been assumed that the Baltimore Orioles would bring in a veteran catcher before the start of the 2019 season to help supplement the current young backstops on the roster in Austin Wynns and Chance Sisco. He wasn’t on our list of potential veteran options the organization could bring in, but the Orioles have signed six-year MLB veteran Jesus Sucre.
First reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Sucre’s contract is a minor league, worth $850,000 if he makes the active roster. He has received an invitation to spring training and has an opt-out available on March 22nd, if he isn’t on the 40-man roster.
The 30-year-old right-hander has appeared in 223 games with the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays over parts of the past six seasons, logging a career-high 73 of those with the Rays last year. Sucre slashed .209/.247/.253 with Tampa Bay in 2018 and is a .223 hitter for his career.
Sucre’s real value comes from his defense. His pop-times and exchange times are similar to Austin Wynns (2.01 pop-time to second base), which rank him right in the middle of the pack among all eligible major league catchers, but his ability to call a game from behind the plate has been highly touted by former teammates and coaches.
In a story by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times, Sucre had this to say about calling a game.
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“I like to control the game,” Sucre said. “I like to feel like I got this. I try to tell the pitchers, ‘Hey, this is my plan. I know you have a plan, but this is my plan right here.’ … I’m the kind of guy where all I worry about is taking care of the pitchers.”
Tampa Bay pitchers posted a 3.56 ERA with Sucre behind the plate last year. Across his entire career, pitchers have a 3.90 ERA when Sucre catches, well below the league average of 4.04, according to Baseball Reference.
He’s also pretty good at gunning down potential base stealers. In six years, 32% of would-be base stealers were caught by Sucre, also well above league average.
This isn’t a needle-moving signing, but with inexperience behind the plate and a long list of inexperienced pitchers preparing to take the mound in Baltimore, signing Jesus Secure is a no-risk signing that could prove to be very valuable. Combined with the earlier addition of Carlos Perez, another defense-first catcher, the influx of young talent in Baltimore will have plenty of experience to lean on and learn from as year one of the massive rebuild begins.
Expect to see plenty more small signings like this over the next few weeks as the Orioles continue to craft their spring training roster.