After serving as organizational catching depth for the Mariners over the past six seasons, Jesus Sucre beat out Luke Maile and Curt Casali for Tampa Bay's backup catching job out of spring training. Sucre served as the backup to Derek Norris to start the year, but after outperforming Norris both offensively and defensively, he stuck around as the team's No. 2 backstop once starting catcher Wilson Ramos returned from the disabled list. The 29-year-old wound up playing in a career-high 69 games, finishing the season with a .256/.289/.409 line, seven homers and 29 RBI in 192 plate appearances -- the best numbers of his career in any season with more than 10 appearances. He's expected to slot in behind Ramos as the Rays' backup catcher; with Ramos entering the season healthy, Sucre figures to see a similarly light workload in 2018.
Sucre made it to the Rays' spring training after missing the first three days due to visa issues, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports. Although the 29-year-old was expected to arrive in camp Friday, it's a positive sign that there were no additional problems with his situation. In 2017, Sucre hit .256/.289/.409 with seven home runs and 29 RBI while serving in a reserve role for most of the year. He will be utilized in a similar capacity this season, with Wilson Ramos earning a majority of the starts.
Sucre agreed to a one-year, $925,000 deal with the Rays on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Roger Mooney of The Tampa Bay Times reports. This was the second offseason he was arbitration eligible, and Sucre collected a raise of $295,000. He slashed .256/.289/.409 with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 63 games as the reserve catcher in 2017, and will likely fill out the same role during this upcoming season.
Sucre went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in Sunday's 9-4 loss to the Orioles. Sucre has made good use of his sporadic playing time recently, as he has a trio of two-hit efforts in September. Sunday's homer was also his third in eight starts this month, leading to a .292 average and .667 slugging percentage in 24 plate appearances over that span.
Sucre went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and two runs in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Red Sox. The backup catcher's 373-foot shot to left in the sixth snapped a 2-2 tie and ended up being the difference in the ballgame. Sucre has a pair of two-hit outings in six September starts and is slashing .294/.294/.404 overall during the month -- a nice supplement to his solid defense behind the dish.
Sucre went 2-for-4 in Thursday's 2-0 win over the Blue Jays. All Sucre seems to do in his occasional opportunities is produce, as he's now hit safely in six of his last seven starts. The veteran backstop has proven to be an ideal complement to Wilson Ramos, contributing his trademark defense and also hitting an impressive .308 with runners in scoring position.