Cardinals sign Laird to be backup catcher

Cardinals sign Laird to be backup catcher

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' search for a backup catcher has come to a conclusion, and the new guy looks a good bit like his predecessors.

Gerald Laird agreed to a one-year pact with the Redbirds on Tuesday. The move continues the club's long-standing fondness for catch-and-throw backstops. Laird is regarded as an exemplary defensive catcher, but his offense has dipped sharply over the past couple of years.

Laird, who turned 31 in November, batted .207 with a .263 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage for the Tigers in 2010. For his career, he has a line of .242/.300/.358, highlighted by a 2006 season with the Rangers in which he hit .296 and slugged .473 in 78 games.

While the Cards had said early in the winter that they were interested in a more offensive-minded backup catcher than what they've had in recent years, Laird does fit the team's desired profile in one other way. He has started at least 76 games behind the plate in each of the past four seasons. The Cardinals would like a backup catcher who can play a little more often than Jason LaRue has played in recent years, allowing Yadier Molina more days off as the season goes along.

With Laird in the fold, the Cardinals may well be done assembling their 2011 roster.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.