Over the past several months we've talked an awful lot about the Rays catcher position; Will Navarro be back? Zaun? There really haven't been many alternatives discussed. One candidate, at least in my mind, is Chris Snyder*.
*You can add this to the long offseason wishlist of players who we'd like to see the Rays go after.;
Snyder was taken in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Diamondbacks. He would advance fairly quickly through the Arizona system, piling up a little over 1,100 minor league at bats before being called up to the big club from AA El Paso in 2004. The call up was well deserved as Snyder hit .301/.389/520 in 401 at bats. He began the 2005 season as the Diamondbacks' starting catcher but struggled mightily while posting a .598 OPS in 115 games. Those terrible numbers would lead Arizona to trade for then All-Star catcher Johnny Estrada, pushing Snyder to the bench, to begin the 2006 season. In limited duty Snyder would post a .773 OPS, nearly 200 points higher than the year before. With his bat seemingly back on track Snyder regained the starting position on the 2007 team as Estrada was shipped to Milwaukee. The next two seasons would see Snyder post OPS's of .775 and .780, both numbers more than respectable for a catcher.
After a career season in 2008 in the Diamondbacks looked to avoid arbitration and inked the 27 year old catcher to a 3 year, $14.25 million deal. The 2009 season would not nearly be as good. Plauged by lower back problems for most of the season, Snyder was limited to just 165 at bats in 65 games. He would see his OBP, SLG, and LD% all fall short of career norms. One reason for this drop in production, the injury notwithstanding, could be a decreased BABiP. Though never one to have even a league average BABiP, it was just .280 and .290 in '07/'08, Snyder would get particularly unlucky in 2009 as it fell to a Navarro-like .241. That number is almost assured of rising in 2010. If Snyder is healthy again I see no reason why he couldn't put up numbers close to his '07/'08 seasons. Seeing as how well Miguel Montero has played in Snyder's place I highly doubt the Diamondbacks want to pay Snyder $4.75 million this season to ride the bench.
I don't know what kind of wizardry it would take by Andrew Friedman and company to get Snyder on this team, but I'm supportive of any deal that brings Snyder to St. Petersburg.