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Giants sign catcher Tim Federowicz to minor-league deal

Trevor Brown has a little competition, as the Giants signed Tim Federowicz, who’s been slugging in Triple-A for the last few years.

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs - Game One Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Tim Federowicz, backup catcher to the stars, is joining the Giants on a minor-league deal. While there’s been no confirmation about the team’s plans for him, it would appear that Trevor Brown has some competition in March.

The 29-year-old Federowicz was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008 and traded to the Dodgers three years later in a massive three-way trade that didn’t make a difference for any of the teams involved. He’s appeared in parts of five major league seasons, including four with the Dodgers, and he picked up 33 plate appearances with the Cubs last year. That means he’s a World Series champion, with a ring to prove it.

Maybe he can teach these Giants how to win, I don’t know.

In 304 major league plate appearances, Federowicz has hit .194/.243/.295, which is just a little better than Jeff Samardzija, but not much. So you can see how he slipped to the Giants in the minor-hot stove league. Just looking at those numbers, spread out over several years, probably doesn’t do him justice, though. In six Triple-A seasons, he’s accrued 1,340 plate appearances, hitting .305/.375/.513.

The caveat with those numbers is that the bulk of them came at Albuquerque, which is like Coors Field with a reverse-humidor, but they still show a hint of offensive ability. There’s a little power, a little contact ... I’ll assume that Buster Posey’s job is safe (FOR NOW), but it’s not your typical stat line from a minor-league free agent catcher. His pitch framing has graded out as a little below-average, but nothing that would prevent him from being on a major league bench.

Here’s how he compares with the incumbent:

Triple-A comparison

Stats Trevor Brown Tim Federowicz
Stats Trevor Brown Tim Federowicz
PA 394 1340
AVG .273 .305
OBP .332 .375
SLG .346 .513
HR 2 50
HR/PA 0.51% 3.73%
Age 25 29

Again, adjust for park (even though the numbers were in the same league, at least). But you can see where I’m going with this. Last year was about as good as we can expect from Trevor Brown. He’s younger, sure, but nothing in his minor-league career suggests he can hit any better than a replacement-level backup catcher. He hit five homers last year, which almost doubled his career total, except three of those came in his first eight plate appearances of the season, in Coors. He hit .230/.278/.309 for the rest of the season, which is about right.

Federowicz at least gives a chance of something more offensively, if these Triple-A numbers are legit.

Now, does that mean I’m in the bag for Federowicz? Nope. Not at all. Brown is a fine receiver and the pitching staff might be used to him. When you’re talking about 175 at-bats spread out over 162 games, and the difference is a couple dozen points of slugging or whatever, the comfort of the pitchers and the overall defense might be more important. If there were a Backup Catcher Expansion Draft, and the Giants had first pick and could take any backup catcher in the league, I’m not sure if it would make a substantial difference.

At the very least, though, it’s probably going to be a spring battle. Oh, how I love those. Spring battles are just so very fun, even if this one might mean less than others.

The Giants signed a catcher who could compete for a bench job, and he happens to have a little power. That’s a little oasis of interesting in our boring post-Melancon world.