Mets end talks with catcher Torrealba
Club official says deal was never a given, despite agreement
NEW YORK -- The Mets' search for a starting catcher, seemingly complete as late as Thursday night, has been renewed because the club no longer is moving toward signing free-agent backstop Yorvit Torrealba as it had planned. An agreement on contract terms -- three years for $14.4 million -- had been reached, but finalizing the deal was dependent on Torrealba passing a physical.
The Mets declined to say Saturday whether Torrealba had passed -- or even taken -- a physical. Instead, the club only acknowledged that no deal was in place and no additional contact with Torrealba's agent was scheduled. General manager Omar Minaya said "All I will tell you is that we have no agreement and there are no current negotations."
There was some indication from a club official on Friday that a final agreement was not the given it usually is when agreement on terms in is place.
Minaya declined to say whether he planned to renew contact or if he had made contact with Paul Lo Duca's agent, who seemingly had been eliminated as a candidate to catch next season.
A person familiar with the Mets' pursuit of Torrealba indicated on Saturday night that the condition of Torrealba's right shoulder might have been the cause for the terminated talks. But his information was second hand, and he was unsure if the 29-year-old catcher had undergone a physical.
Another person indicated the reason wasn't related to the results of any tests other than a routine physical.
Torrealba's shoulder became an issue in February 2006, when he joined the Rockies in Spring Training, two months after he had been acquired from the Mariners in a trade. His throws no longer were strong with carry. "He was quick, but his throws had parachutes on them," one National League coach said Saturday night.
The Rockies learned weight training had led to an injury or a condition that affected his throwing. The Rockies, who had high regard for Torrealba's receiving and his handling of pitchers, were willing to tolerate his poor throwing. The club believed the condition of his arm had improved during the second half of the 2007, but knew his arm still could be exploited.
Whether the Mets were aware of the condition of his arm before this weekend in unclear.
While Torrealba was catching last season, Rockies opponents stole 61 in 76 attempts, a success rate of 80 percent. The ability of the pitchers to hold runners is a factor throwing out runners, but the league norm for catchers is about 70 percent.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.