Apparently Jack Zduriencik's holiday break is over. The Mariners GM announced today that the team has signed catcher Josh Bard and reliever Chad Cordero to minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training.
With the Mariners lacking catching depth after the departature of Kenji Johjima, the uncertainty of Rob Johnson's recovery from multiple offseason surgeries and Adam Moore's lack of big league experience, Bard should come in and compete for a spot.
Bard spent the entire 2009 season with the Washington Nationals. He platooned at catcher, appearing in 90 games with the Nats, hitting .230 average (63-for-270) with 18 doubles, 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 274 at-bats. He hit .383 in June to lead all Nationals hitters, and hit .300 with 4 doubles and 7 RBI in 13 games vs. the American League.
Even though Bard is a switch-hitter, he platooned and started games against right-handers on most occasions. He had 248 plate appearances against right-handers and just 50 against lefties. Here's last year's splits. Here's his career splits.
He won't make anyone forget about Johnny Bench or Pudge Rodriguez with his defensive skills. While I don't hold caught-stealing percentage as a great measure (some pitchers are just terrible at holding runners on), Bard had an 8 percent caught stealing percentage in 2007 (10-of-121). For his career, he's about 20 percent.
Bard is a nine-year veteran with stops in Cleveland (2002-2005), Boston (2006) and San Diego (2007-2008) in addition to Washington. He is a career .259 hitter in 521 Major League games.
Cordero returns to the Mariners afters spending all of last year in the minor league system rehabilitating from surgery he had on the labrum in right throwing shoulder in July, 2008. Cordero originally signed with the Mariners on March 12, 2009. He appeared in six games (six starts) with the Arizona League Mariners and in eight games, all in relief, with the Everett AquaSox last year.
Cordero appeared in only six games with the Washington Nationals in 2008. He was on the 15-day disabled list from April 5-13 with right shoulder tendonitis. He returned to the disabled list on May 2, and missed the remainder of the season, after having surgery on the labrum in his right shoulder.
Cordero has 128 saves in his big league career with Washington/Montreal since making his debut in 2003. In 305 career Major League games (all in relief), Cordero is 20-14 with 128 saves and a 2.78 ERA. Prior to missing the bulk of the 2008 season, he averaged nearly 38 saves per season over the previous three years. From 2005 to 2007, Cordero collected 113 saves while making 218 appearances (an average of 72.7 games per year). He had a career-high 47 saves in 2005 with the Nationals when he was named to the National League All-Star Team.