CLEVELAND - The Indians don't know their starting catcher will be this year. However, they've already settled on a backup.
Cleveland agreed yesterday to an $850,000, one-year contract with free agent Mike Redmond, giving the Indians needed experience after trading Kelly Shoppach to Tampa Bay last month. Shoppach's departure left Cleveland without a dependable backup to work with its young pitching staff.
The Indians feel they can count on Redmond, a 12-year veteran who spent the last five seasons with Minnesota.
"He's a good receiver and game caller," assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said. "We feel he's a good complement to our team. He'll provide leadership and mentor our young catchers as well as our pitching staff."
Antonetti said Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas will compete for Cleveland's starting job behind the plate. On the horizon is switch-hitting sensation Carlos Santana, who is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Columbus for grooming but could force the Indians to reconsider their plans with a strong training camp.
Coming from inside the AL Central, the Indians are very familiar with the 38-year-old Redmond, who served as MVP Joe Mauer's backup with the Twins. Redmond batted a .297 in 257 games with Minnesota since 2005. Last season, he batted .237 (32-for-135) in 45 games.
A .289 career hitter, Redmond won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003.
In addition to his catching skills, the Indians are excited about what he can add to their clubhouse.
"Everybody really raves about him," Antonetti said. "He has a high baseball I.Q. He's very well respected by everyone we talked to. He's a great teammate."
Redmond can earn an additional $50,000 in performance bonuses: $10,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 60, and 70 games started.