2013 A's roster breakdown: Catchers

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2013 A's roster breakdown: Catchers

Editor's note: This is the second installment of the Oakland A's position-by-position offseason breakdown, teeing up the team's options for the 2013 season.The A's will enter 2013 without a veteran option at catcher. They don't seem too concerned by that fact. Derek Norris and George Kottaras are set to take the reigns in Oakland next season."We're comfortable with both of those guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Absolutely."Norris seems to be the logical choice to be the starting catcher for the A's next season. He was recalled on Aug. 21, and ended up taking over a bulk of the catching duty from veteran leader Kurt Suzuki. At one point in July the A's won 13 consecutive games started by Norris. He played well enough that Oakland felt comfortable trading Suzuki to the Washington Nationals. After Suzuki was traded there was a lot of concern about what would happen to the A's pitching staff. Norris proved he could handle the A's talented young pitchers.
It isn't a perfect statistic, but with Norris behind the plate, A's pitchers had a 3.08 ERA -- the lowest for a catcher in the American League with 50 or more innings caught. Despite the staff's confidence in him, Norris was only able to throw out 26 percent of would-be base stealers, which was third worst in the league. He will have to work hard in the offseason to improve that percentage.Norris, 23, only hit .201 in 2012, but he hit .339 with runners in scoring position, and four of his seven home runs came with a runner on. Kottaras also came through in big situations for the A's. He hit .293 with six of his nine homers coming with runners on base, and hit .368 with runners in scoring position. Norris is a right-handed hitter and Kottaras bats left-handed. That gives Melvin the opportunity to platoon the two catchers.Here in 2013:Derek Norris
George Kottaras
On the Farm:Jason Jaramillo
Blake Lalli
Max Stassi
Free Agents:NoneBiggest Question:Can Norris and Kottaras improve defensively?Analyst's Take -- Greg Cadaret:"I think Norris has the tools to be a good major league catcher. I think Kottaras is a major league backup. If you are splitting them 5050 I think you are weak there. Norris will improve once he gets the pressure off and stops trying to hit too many home runs. He has a tendency to let the frontside fly open and try and hook everything."I think he'll throw alright. I think he tried to be too fast sometimes. He showed the capability to block a ball, good hands, and the ability to call a game. A couple times he got lazy blocking balls and let a couple get away from him, but he looked like a guy that has some pop. He'll be a good major league catcher once he understands he doesn't have to try to do too much."Best Available (and possibly affordable):Mike Napoli, 31 (Not likely affordable)
Russell Martin, 30
A.J. Pierzynski, 36

Friendly jabbing motivated Healy, helped him land A's 3B job

Friendly jabbing motivated Healy, helped him land A's 3B job

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — At this time last year, Ryon Healy was doing his offseason workouts unsure of when his first big league opportunity might come knocking.

Fast forward to his current situation. The A’s young third baseman, coming off a very impressive rookie season, looks like a foundation piece for Oakland. Manager Bob Melvin, giving his annual media address at the winter meetings Wednesday, talked about Healy’s impressive debut and his ability to handle third base in the majors after spending his college days and much of his minor league career at first.

“You know, it’s one thing when you get to the big leagues for the first time, it's a little bit uncomfortable,” Melvin said. “It's another thing when you're playing a position that you haven't played for very long, and that just kind of shows his tenacity. He really feels like he can play anywhere if he had to.”

Healy works out every offseason with Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar, a fellow Southern California resident. Last winter, Healy said Pillar twisted the knife in him a little, jabbing at Healy because he wasn’t invited to the A’s major league spring camp. It was meant to be light-hearted motivation for Healy.

Healy proceeded to get called up at the All-Star break and unseated Danny Valencia at third base, hitting .305 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. So how is he responding to Pillar in this winter’s workouts?

“I’ve already been jawing at him and the fact that I had half a season and almost doubled his home run total (of seven),” Healy told CSN California last week.

All indications are Healy will enter the 2017 season as the A’s starting third baseman. Valencia was traded to Seattle, and the signals coming from Oakland officials are that they’d prefer highly touted third base prospect Matt Chapman to get a little more minor league seasoning at Triple-A. Healy’s emergence makes it easier to make that call.

But Melvin also points to Healy’s versatility, saying he could move across the diamond to first base if need be.

“He just wants to get his bat in the lineup,” Melvin said. “He's a tough kid. And to take to third base, which is not an easy position, as well as he did, you know, speaks to how hard he works. If Chapman ends up being there at some point in time, (Healy’s) natural position is first base. We also have the DH spot. We'll find a place for his bat.”

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez has agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract to remain with the Texas Rangers, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement was subject to a physical and had not been announced.

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center field in an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left.

He was released by Houston in August, signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for the Astros.

With the agreement, Texas is not likely to keep outfielder Ian Desmond, who also became a free agent.