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12/18/08 11:29 AM EST

Tigers find backup backstop in Treanor

Catcher inks one-year deal as newly acquired Laird's understudy

Earlier this month, the Tigers found their backstop. Now, they've found his backup.

The Tigers announced Thursday that they have signed catcher Matt Treanor to a one-year contract believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $750,000. The 32-year-old Treanor will serve as the backup to Gerald Laird, who was acquired during a Winter Meetings trade with the Rangers.

"Matt is a quality backup catcher at the Major League level and a solid addition to our club," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a release. "Addressing our catching situation was a priority for us this winter, and we feel we have solidified that area by adding both Gerald Laird and Matt Treanor."

Dombrowski and Treanor have a history together. It was Dombrowski, then the Marlins' general manager, who brought Treanor into the Florida organization in 1997, when he was a Class A catcher.

Treanor's acquisition likely ensures that Dusty Ryan, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, will begin the '09 season in the Minors.

Hot Stove

Treanor wasn't a free agent for long. He was still under the Marlins' contractual control until last week, when he was released by the club. The Marlins had tried unsuccessfully to trade him, with the Tigers once rumored as one of his potential suitors.

Treanor has a .237 batting average over 274 career games, spanning five seasons. He was a Minor Leaguer for 10 1/2 seasons before finally getting his big league break in '04. He played in 65 games in '08, batting .238 with two homers and 23 RBIs, and was the Marlins' Opening Day catcher, but he was hampered in the second half by a left hip injury and lost his starting job to John Baker.

On Oct. 1, Treanor underwent a sports hernia surgery to replace tears in his left hip area. But the six-week recovery phase from that procedure is complete, and Treanor should be healthy for the start of Spring Training.

Treanor was respected in Florida as a clubhouse leader with strong defensive skills and a good rapport with his pitchers. He is the husband of U.S. Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.