Rockies considering catching alternatives

Rockies considering catching alternatives

DENVER -- The Rockies are talking with Miguel Olivo and a number of other catchers on the free-agent market as things have grown cold with Yorvit Torrealba, general manager Dan O'Dowd said Wednesday.

The Rockies and Torrealba, who has been with them since 2006, haven't been able to bridge the gap between a reported $5.6 million, two-year offer from the club and the $6 million Torrealba was seeking. Pudge Rodriguez, from the Nationals, and Jason Kendall, from the Royals, each received $6 million over two years in free-agent deals.

During the MLB Winter Meetings, O'Dowd said the club was prepared to offer a two-year deal to Olivo, 31, who hit .249 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs in 114 games as the Royals' main catcher last season. Olivo is the top option other than Torrealba, but the team also is looking at Josh Bard, who played for the Nationals last season, as well as other catchers.

"We're working our way through the process with a number of catchers out there, so I wouldn't say we're any farther along than we were a week ago," O'Dowd said.

O'Dowd didn't completely close the door on Torrealba re-signing with the Rockies.

"We respect and appreciate what Yorit has brought to us, but we have a difference of opinion that we can't bridge at this point in time," O'Dowd said. "Of course, anything can happen in negotiations.

The Rockies have reached a three-year, $8.3 million agreement with Chris Iannetta and are looking for him to fulfill his longtime potential and become the main catcher. However, they want a veteran catcher to compete with him and take over in the case of a slump.

That's what happened last year when Torrealba hit a career-best .291 and made most of the starts in the final two months as the Rockies completed their run to the playoffs.

One of the Rockies' utility candidates went off the market on Wednesday when Jamey Carroll, a member of the 2007 National League champion Rockies, chose the Dodgers. The Rockies, who are looking for more of a hitter than a defender, did not pursue Carroll as aggressively as some other teams.

"Jamey is a good player and we valued his time here, but we have some younger guys in Omar Quintanilla and Jonathan Herrera, and if we were to go in that direction we'd probably go with them," O'Dowd said. "We're looking for a different type of player."

Nick Green, Melvin Mora, Robb Quinlan and Fernando Tatis are among right-handed-hitting utility players linked to the Rockies. The Rockies also like a couple of left-handed hitters, Jason Giambi and Chad Tracy.

O'Dowd acknowledged interest in former Pirates closer Matt Capps, who has heard from 15 teams since being non-tendered over the weekend. Paul Kinzer, Capps' agent, said they intend to narrow the list to about five clubs with whom Capps will negotiate.

Capps had some of his best performances with the Pirates when Jim Tracy, the current Rockies manager, was in Pittsburgh, and O'Dowd said the Rockies have had success with players coming off difficult seasons and could help Capps. Also, Capps could be a safeguard should the Rockies not be able to sign closer Huston Street to a multiyear deal and lose him to free agency after 2010.

The Rockies did not bite on right-hander Jose Contreras' request for a three-year offer and have not heard back from his representatives. Capps and Contreras are two of "a variety of relievers" the Rockies are studying, O'Dowd said. Left-hander Joe Beimel is an acknowledged Rockies target.

What the Rockies can offer relievers could depend on how the club approaches right-handed setup man Rafael Betancourt's potential arbitration. Betancourt turned down a two-year offer before accepting arbitration, but a multiyear agreement is still possible as the sides work through the arbitration process.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.