Veteran catcher Jesús Sucre signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on Friday that includes an invitation to major league spring training, the team announced, representing the latest attempt to fill out their catcher position as report date approaches.
Sucre, 30, spent the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .209 with a .500 OPS last year to bring his career average to .233. He began his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2013, and has thrown out 32 percent of attempted base stealers in 111 chances.
Sucre represents the second minor league free agent with major league experience signed at the catcher position this offseason, including Carlos Pérez. With longtime catcher Caleb Joseph not tendered a contract for the 2019 season by the new front office, Sucre and Pérez join former top prospect Chance Sisco, fellow homegrown backstop Austin Wynns, and minor league invites Andrew Susac and Martin Cervenka.
The major league staff swapped out renowned catching instructors this offseason with bench coach John Russell not returning and major league field coordinator and catching instructor Tim Cossins hired by Brandon Hyde, a former catcher himself.
But with this group, there will be plenty of room for progress. All five Orioles catchers who had major league time last year, Cervenka excluded, rated as below-average pitch framers according to Baseball Prospectus.
USA Today first reported Sucre's agreement, including his $800,000 salary if he's in the majors, and March 22 opt-out date if he's not added to the major league roster.
Kendall named Triple-A Norfolk manager
After eight seasons managing Double-A Bowie, Gary Kendall has been elevated to manage Triple-A Norfolk, the Tides announced Friday.
Kendall replaces longtime Tides manager Ron Johnson, who was not offered a contract to return in October, and represents the first new role for a returning Orioles coach made public.
The Orioles have not announced their full minor league coaching staff.
Orioles add another college coach
After hiring coach Tom Eller away from Harford Community College to be a minor league hitting coach on Monday, the Orioles went back to the collegiate ranks for another coach this week.
Justin Ramsey, the pitching coach at Nova Southeastern University, tweeted Thursday that he was leaving to join the Orioles in a minor league coaching role. Ramsey had been at the Florida school since 2015 after a stop at Hyde's alma mater, Long Beach State.