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Detroit's Fishing For Yet Another Florida Marlin

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With Mike Rabelo among the six players that went to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade, and Vance Wilson likely out until at least Spring Training, the Detroit Tigers could be in need of a new back-up catcher. And to their possible good fortune, two notable catchers, Miguel Olivo and Johnny Estrada, ended up on the list of non-tendered players this week.

But since it's apparently become trendy for ex-Marlins to migrate up north to Detroit, it's the Florida guy that the Tigers are interested in. In today's Freep, Jon Paul Morosi reported that the team got in touch with Miguel Olivo's agent soon after he wasn't offered a contract by the Marlins.

"I've had conversations with five or six teams, and the Tigers were one of them," Martin Arburua told the Free Press today. "We're still very early in the process."

Olivo would surely prefer to find a team willing to offer a starting job, but that kind of opportunity may not exist. Of course, another team could conceivably offer more playing time than the Tigers might. Pudge Rodriguez caught 127 games last season.

For 2007, Olivo hit .237/.262/.405 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI. Perhaps more pertinent to the Tigers' interest, however, he threw out 28% of potential base-stealers (which is just a touch below Pudge's 29%) while also allowing 16 passed balls in 119 games. His percentage of wild pitches/passed balls per game was also .610, which was the worst among National League catchers. (Compare that to Pudge's .510 - and we know how bad he was last season.)

But as Mike McClary just pointed out to me, maybe those numbers are also indicative of the young pitching staff Olivo had to deal with in Florida.

Another consideration is salary. Olivo made $2 million this past year. Would Detroit want to pay that much for a back-up catcher whose playing schedule will mostly consist of Sunday matinee fill-ins? That seems hard to imagine. Maybe the Tigers could work out a deal that would pay him reserve catcher money this season (for example, Vance Wilson's contract pays him $950,000 per season), with the potential to make more as a starter in 2009. Deal or no deal?

(via MLB Trade Rumors)