On Tuesday, the Phillies signed catcher Brian Schneider, to a 2-year deal worth $2.75 million. Schneider is currently 33 years old and is a career .251 hitter with 59 career homeruns. Schneider will serve as the Phillies backup catcher and is a clear improvement over what the Phillies have had in the past. I think this is a great move on the Phillies part and am actually quite surprised by it. Based on the minimal salary that the Phillies offered Juan Castro, I am shocked the Phillies would give almost $3 million to a backup catcher. Not that I believe this is too much money for Schneider, or a backup catcher, I was just expecting the Phillies to pursue a cheaper option. I was also surprised that Schneider signed with the Phillies knowing he would be used only as a backup. Schneider has been a starting catcher for basically his entire career. Excluding last years injury plagued season, Schneider has averaged 430 plate appearances since 2003.
Having a backup catcher who is not anemic at the plate is very rare. This is rare because catchers in general are poor hitters and backup catchers are valued based on their defensive and game calling abilities. Throughout Schneider's career, he has shown the ability to be incredibly durable and has superior defensive skills behind the plate. Over his 10 year career, Schneider averages an FRAR of 21.3 which is incredibly impressive. To give a comparison, Carlos Ruiz who is praised for his defensive abilities, has averaged an FRAR of 22 over the past 3 seasons. For those who are unfamiliar with FRAR, it is Fielding Runs Above Replacement. This represents how many additional runs a player saves or gives up defensively, compared to a replacement player at the same position. Any number above 5 usually represents a solid defensive player at that position.
After this signing, it is likely that the Phillies will move their search onto the bullpen and thirdbase. It is also worth noting that Schneider should ease some concerns about the Phillies' willingness to spend this offseason. Also, the Detroit Tigers did not offer salary arbitration to Placido Polanco, this makes the signing of Polanco more probable as the Phillies would not be forced to lose a draft choice.