Reports from the Winter Meetings indicate that the Mets have reached a deal with C Ronny Paulino, although the signing has not been officially announced by the team. Reports indicate that it will be for one year at $1.3 million per year.
Paulino appears to fit as a perfect compliment to Josh Thole, albeit less defensively adept as previous backups have been. Paulino appeared in 91 games last year for Florida, hitting .259/.311/.354 in 344 plate appearances. The big draw for Paulino, however, is how well he hits lefties. Paulino split a gaudy .358/.380/.516 in 100 PA last year for Florida, and has a career .338/.390/.491 split against lefties. This signing makes him appear as an clear cut compliment to the lefty-hitting Thole.
However, the real question mark with Paulino stems from the 50-game suspension he was served with last year for use of Performance-Enhancing Drugs. He claims it was an unknown ingredient in a weight-loss supplement he used - I don't know, maybe it was. I'd hope to give him the benefit of the doubt - either way, you've got to wonder both if he'll lose something he had before the suspension, or more likely, if he'll be rusty upon his return. He still has eight games remaining on the suspension that will have to be served at the beginning of the season.
Overall, however, this appears to be a good signing as a backup catcher looking to prove something and parlay his performance into a starting job in 2012. One year, $1.3 million seems to be the best you can hope for to pay for a veteran backup such as Paulino.