As expected, the Orioles have announced the signing of catcher Ramon Hernandez to a four-year deal, worth $27.5 million and pending a physical.
Hernandez is going to be 30 years old next May and is a career .262/.325/.418 hitter. He's played the last couple of years in Petco, which could sap some power, but at best he's a 20-homer, 20-double guy. He's also had durability issues the past two seasons, playing 111 and 99 games for San Diego.
This isn't a signing to get all that excited about, but it fills the hole at catcher that Javy Lopez was going to create after the 2006 season at the latest. Hernandez is considered a good game caller and staff handler, and I guess I'd prefer him to Ben Molina and certainly prefer him to Paul Lo Duca. He's probably not actually worth the money he's going to get, but it's a seller's market out there and the Orioles are wise to not risk going into 2006 with Eli Whiteside's sickly bat starting games behind the plate. Hopefully Hernandez will work out, but there are plenty of things to not like about the contract. I'm not a particular fan of the length of it, for instance.