Jays finally land catcher Barajas

The Toronto Blue Jays, clearly ready to let bygones be bygones, havefilled out their 2008 roster with one surprise, likely final, addition.No, not Roger Clemens.

The Toronto Blue Jays, clearly ready to let bygones be bygones, have filled out their 2008 roster with one surprise, likely final, addition. No, not Roger Clemens.

While there’s no confirmation of any handshake on this just yet, the Jays announced yesterday that they had finally landed their backup catcher — Rodrigo Barajas, better known as Rod.

Name ring a bell? It should.

"Who really knows what happened back then?" said Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey last night. "It might have been a miscommunication, some misunderstanding."

A year ago November, fully prepared to let incumbent free agent Gregg Zaun walk, the Jays announced a Barajas signing for a reported $5.25 million (U.S.) over two years. The California native was even due in Toronto the final Monday of the month for a physical and a likely meet-the-press deal.

Over that weekend, though, something happened to Barajas — cold feet, most likely. Suddenly, he fired his agent and hired another, Danny Lazano, who then called Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi to say his new client wouldn’t be coming to Toronto on the Monday, but would it be okay to reopen negotiations?

Yesterday, Ricciardi indicated he’d be available for comment on Barajas, part II, via conference call this morning.

A year ago, though, he was royally ticked at a "done deal" that had come so badly undone.

"Where I come from, your word means something and your handshake means something and, unfortunately, in this case, it didn’t," he had said back then. "We had more than a handshake."

Ricciardi then turned around and reopened talks with Zaun, who turned out the big winner in the reneging when he scored an 11th-hour, two-year deal for $7.25 million.

Again back then, Barajas had explained himself by saying: "I kind of felt I was rushed into that decision. It just didn’t feel right."

Well, now it apparently does.

After an injury-dotted season with last year’s Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he made $2.5 million, Barajas comes on board for one season plus an option that will pay him $1.2 million in 2008.

He hit .230 with four homers and 10 RBIs over only 122 at-bats for the Phillies but had totalled 47 homers — a career-high 21 in 2005 — and 159 RBIs with the Texas Rangers, 2004-07.

He played his first five seasons, 1999-2003, with Arizona, contributing a home run to the D-backs’ World Series win over the Yankees in 2001.

"We thought enough of (Barajas) to sign him as possibly our No..1 catcher a year ago," said Godfrey, "so we’re obviously happy we’ve got him as our backup."

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