Backup catcher is immediate priority

The Phillies liked having Brian Schneider as a backup catcher because of his defensive abilities. (Matt Slocum/AP file photo)

MILWAUKEE — Ruben Amaro Jr. said he targeted closer as his first major position this winter because he expects shortstop to take quite some time to fill. Jimmy Rollins is expected to wait out the market for his desired five-year deal. Depending on how long Jose Reyes, the top shortstop on the market, remains unsigned, Rollins could linger.

"I don't see that moving particularly quickly," Amaro said. I just had a feeling that would be the case."

So here at the meetings, Amaro said his immediate priority is to sign a backup catcher. That could happen in the coming days. Brian Schneider remains a possibility to return after two years with the organization, but Amaro has engaged other free agents too.

The Phillies liked Schneider because of his defensive abilities. The pitching staff had no problems with him behind the plate filling in for Carlos Ruiz. That will probably help Schneider's case. His .502 OPS and 38 OPS+ will not help.

So if the Phillies seek an offensive upgrade, there are options. Ryan Doumit hit .303 with an .830 OPS. But he reportedly turned down a one-year, $3 million offer from Los Angeles, so he could be pricier than the Phillies want.

Three backup catchers already signed and that's likely why the Phillies will act now on that position. Rod Barajas ($4 million), Henry Blanco ($1.2 million) and Matt Treanor ($1 million) all signed one-year deals within the past week.

Other free agents include Chris Snyder, Kelly Shoppach and Ramon Castro.

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