Jays zero in on Barajas

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Gregg Zaun isn't the lone free agent catcher to receive an offer from the Blue Jays.

Rod Barajas, a free agent catcher who last season played for the Texas Rangers, also has received an offer from general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

While Zaun, who has played the past three seasons with the Jays, doesn't seem too pleased with his offer, the representatives of Barajas say they are making progress with Toronto.

"We've received an offer and I'd have to classify our discussions with Toronto as being productive," Terry Bross, an agent for Barajas said yesterday. "I'm not going to discuss what the terms were but I'd say it was competitive."

The offer to Barajas, though, figures to be more than the offer to Zaun.

In 2006 Zaun received $1 million US and was offered slightly more than the two-year, $5.25-million contract the Chicago Cubs gave backup catcher Henry Blanco.

Barajas, who is 31 and four years younger than Zaun, earned $3.2 million in 2006 and won't be entertaining a pay cut.

While Zaun is sifting through other offers and hoping the Jays raise the stakes, the Jays and Barajas appear to be getting closer.

"At this point the Jays are the only club we're having serious discussions with," Bross said. Initially they had been talking to five or six teams.

Bross added he'd like to wrap it up as quickly as possible.

TOOK A DROP

Besides not getting treated with the priority he believes he deserves and not satisfied with the initial offer he received from the Jays, Zaun has some issues over what he received in 2006.

Zaun said that in 2005 he had a $950,000 base salary and received an additional $275,000 in incentives.

In 2006, he received a $1-million base salary with incentives worth an additional $350,000.

However, after the Jays signed Bengie Molina to do the bulk of the catching in '06, Zaun had reduced playing time and his incentive package based on at-bats wasn't reached.

"In effect I got a pay cut and that never happens in baseball," Zaun said.

NO OFFERS

While there has been a lot of speculation over the future of centre fielder Vernon Wells and whether or not the Jays will trade him or sign him to a contract extension before the 2007 season, Ricciardi said he hasn't been approached by another GM.

"Nobody made any inquiries during the general managers meetings (last week in Naples, Fla.) and his name hasn't come up in any discussions to date," Ricciardi said yesterday.


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