Orioles sign Sucre to minor league deal

The Orioles’ search for a veteran catcher to toss into the spring training competition led them to Jesús Sucre, who has agreed to terms on a minor league deal.

The announcement came this afternoon.

Sucre’s contract includes an invitation to major league camp and guarantees $850,000 if he makes the club. USA Today reported that the deal also includes a March 22 opt-out date.

The 40-man roster still holds only two catchers - Austin Wynns and Chance Sisco, who were rookies in 2018. Non-roster invitees include Martin Cervenka, Carlos Pérez and Andrew Susac.

Sucre-in-Shades-and-Mask-on-Head-sidebar.jpgSucre, 30, joins the mix and will compete for a job in spring training after spending the past two seasons with the Rays. Another plus defender to infiltrate the Orioles organization, Sucre is a career .223/.259/.308 hitter in parts of six major league seasons and has hit 10 home runs in 654 plate appearances.

In 73 games last season, Sucre slashed .209/.247/.253 with five doubles, one home run and 17 RBIs over 198 plate appearances. He broke into the majors with the Mariners in 2013.

The high marks come from his work behind the plate. He’s thrown out 32 percent of runners attempting to steal and is regarded as a good pitch framer, an attribute that draws more attention these days.

Need an emergency pitcher? Sucre is your man. He’s been used in five games over his career, including two last summer, and has allowed eight runs and 12 hits in four innings.

This is about taking one for the team, as he did against the Orioles on July 28 at Camden Yards. Sucre followed outfielder Carlos Gomez and allowed a hit and two inherited runners to score in a 15-5 loss.

The Orioles will try to keep him off the mound if he makes the club.

Sucre has gone 12-for-44 (.273) with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs in 18 games against the Orioles.

Negotiations continued through the offseason between the Orioles and the representative for catcher Caleb Joseph, who was non-tendered, but talks apparently didn’t progress beyond the parameters of a minor league deal. Sucre accepted it and is headed to Sarasota, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 12.

Meanwhile, another college coach has announced his hiring by the Orioles via Twitter.

Justin Ramsey, pitching coach the past five seasons at Nova Southeastern University, tweeted that he’s accepted a minor league position with the Orioles. The Sharks have qualified for the NCAA South Regional Tournament in four consecutive years.

Ramsey didn’t specify his new role. The Orioles already have Chris Holt serving as minor league pitching coordinator, with John Wasdin named bullpen coach, but they need a replacement for pitching coach Blaine Beatty at Single-A Frederick. They could assign Ramsey to the Keys or do some shuffling among affiliates.

Harford Community College coach Tom Eller tweeted earlier that the Orioles hired him to fill a minor league position.

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