This is the week that will determine Chris Gimenez’s season.
Claimed on waivers by Oakland as the fourth man to add to what was a three-man catching rotation, Gimenez is a 31-year-old veteran who has logged creditable time with the Indians, the Mariners and the Rays.
He’s not going to make the A’s roster, which may not have room for three catchers, much less four. He’s out of options, so he can be a free agent once the A’s set up their roster and he’s not on it.
The questions now: Do the A’s have a trade in mind for him? Will they release him? Will someone claim him if he becomes a free agent? If the A’s do release him, will they then try to sign him back to a minor league contract?
Gimenez’s wife, Kellie, is driving back to his hometown of Gilroy Wednesday, dropping him at the ballpark and then driving with their son, Jace, north to an uncertain future. The likeliest spot would be Sacramento, the locale of the A’s Triple-A team, but it could be Arlington, Texas, where the Rangers seem to need a backup catcher. Or maybe it could be Cleveland for a second time, with the Indians also being short in catching.
“I have no clue what way things will go,’’ Gimenez said Tuesday morning before the A’s next-to-last workout at Phoenix Muni. “But as I look at what’s happening with other clubs, at least there are opportunities.’’
Well, maybe. The Rangers lost catcher Geovanny Soto (knee surgery) for three months, but just signed journeyman catcher Chris Snyder a day after he was released by the Nationals. In Cleveland, manager Terry Francona has moved catcher Carlos Santana to third base, but because of injury issues, Santana remains the backup catcher, which works against the reduced wear-and-tear on Santana the move to third base was supposed to provide.
And the best opportunity may be at Sacramento, just a 100-minute drive from Gimenez’s home in Reno. Even there, things aren’t certain. If the A’s go with a three-man catching setup of John Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt, then Gimenez would be the starter for the RiverCats. If, as expected, the A’s go with two catchers, then Vogt would be the starting catcher and Gimenez, who can play first base and the outfield, could be a fill-in-the-gap guy.
“If I’m going to be an insurance policy, I’d like it to at least be in the big leagues,’’ Gimenez said. “But you have to be realistic. I’m not going to be a starter. I mean I could, but it’s not going to happen right now. So if I don’t make this team, and I won’t, I’ll have to see what else is out there.
“Will there be other offers? I don’t know. Oakland is great for me. When I was growing up in Gilroy, they were my team, just 45 minutes away. A lot of my family still lives there. I’m not young anymore. I’ve got to take advantage of playing at the highest level I can right now.’’
Gimenez says he knows baseball is a game that is all about opportunity. He believes it to his core. He is simply in limbo, not knowing where or when opportunity will come. For now he’s going to be in the Bay Area for the Bay Bridge series between the A’s and the Giants and after that he’ll be somewhere else.
“I’ve been around; I get it,’’ he said. “And I’m all about loyalty. I’d love to be loyal to a team. But it sucks when you’re this close to the start of the season and you don’t know where you’re going to be and your family doesn’t know where they’ll be going.
“I’ve got to do what’s best for myself and my family. It would be great to be here. So now we just have to wait and see.’’