The Giants signed Eli Whiteside to a minor-league contract Friday, according to a report from NBCSports.com.
The Giants non-tendered Whiteside earlier this week, making him a free agent and avoiding the 750,000-some he would have earned through arbitration. Instead, Whiteside will have to compete for a roster spot in Spring Training, and he would likely only earn close to the league minimum, 480,000.
Whiteside, 32, backed into a heavy workload after Buster Posey's season-ending injury. The replacement catcher hit .197 with four home runs in a career-high 236 plate appearances.
During the Winter Meetings, manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Posey would be playing some first base in 2012 in order to keep his bat in the lineup and allow him to rest the ankle.
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To go along with Posey and Whiteside, the Giants also have catchers Chris Stewart and Hector Sanchez on the roster.
It remains to be seen how the Giants will treat the catcher position.
Stewart, 29, took a career-high 162 at bats last year, hitting .204 with three home runs. But it wasn't his offense that kept him in the Giants' battery. Stewart plays stout defense behind the plate and has a lightning fast release to second base. He threw out 22 of 56 would-be base stealers, a 39 success rate, good enough for third in the entire MLB.
The five-year veteran has played for a different team in each of his years in the league.
Sanchez rose through the Giants' minor league system last year and made his major-league debut as a 21-year old on July 15. He hit .302 in in 52 games with the Single-A San Jose Giants, and .261 in 46 games with Triple-A Fresno before getting the promotion.
Sanchez, the Venezuelan native, appeared in 13 games late in the season, tallying eight hits in 31 at bats. He has been lauded as one of the Giants' top prospects as an offensive catcher.