The Phillies swapped catchers tonight at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.
They traded catcher Jason Jaramillo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Ronny Paulino. Paulino will compete with Chris Coste to be Carlos Ruiz's backup. Coste's name also has been mentioned as a potential piece in a trade that could net them Mark DeRosa. Perhaps this trade is a precursor to that one. Regardless, Lou Marson had passed Jaramillo as the organization's top catching prospect, so it wasn't a shock to see the Phillies trade him. Jaramillo wasn't expected to make the big-league club in 2009, and the Phillies couldn't have both Marson and Jaramillo playing in triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies said they expect Marson to open the season in Lehigh Valley, where he will play on an everyday basis and get more seasoning.
Paulino, 27, split last season between Pittsburgh, triple-A Indianapolis and the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates. In 40 games (27 starts) for the Pirates, he hit .212 with two home runs and 18 RBIs, and threw out 26 percent (8 of 31) of potential basestealers. In two full seasons with the Pirates in 2006 and 2007, when he was the Pirates' starting catcher, he hit a combined .286 with 17 homers and 110 RBIs.
Paulino hit .306 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 30 games for Indianapolis. He spent time on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, which included a rehabilitation assignment with the GCL Pirates. Originally signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent, Dec. 29, 1997, Paulino has hit .278 with 19 home runs and 128 RBIs in 304 career games.
Jaramillo, 26, hit .266 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 115 games for Lehigh Valley. The Phillies selected him in the second round of the 2004 draft.