Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a 10-part series over the next two weeks that will focus on questions the Texas Rangers must answer this offseason. These questions are in no particular order.
Today's question: Who catches for the Rangers in 2014?
Those contracts were one-year deals and now the Rangers must figure out what they want to do. The top free agent is clearly Brian McCann. He turns 30 years old in February and has a track record of consistency at the plate. McCann has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last six seasons and seven of his eight full seasons in the big leagues. He drove in 57 runs in 102 games this season, but played in at least 121 in each of his previous full seasons. McCann has a career .277 average and .823 OPS.
McCann's 2013 numbers don't look too different from Pierzynski, who hit 17 homers and drove in 70 runs in 134 games. Pierzynski had 10 fewer home runs in 2013 than he did in 2012, but only seven fewer runs driven in. But McCann has a longer track record of consistent power and production and you're talking about a 7-year difference in age, not to mention the defensive edge that goes in McCann's favor. Signing McCann would finally answer the catching question for longer than a one or two-year period. But it likely comes with a hefty price. We could be talking as much as $15 million a season. Is that an investment worth making? If I'm dumping that much money into a player, McCann is a good one to do it with based on his age, position and history.
If the bidding, though, gets out of hand for McCann, does the club once again go with a stop-gap method and re-sign Pierzynski and Soto? Frankly, I would think Soto makes sense either way. He's a very capable backup, does a nice job with Yu Darvish and for a guy who hit just .245, it sure seemed like nearly every time he got a hit, it was a big one. If the Rangers look elsewhere, one possibility could be Carlos Ruiz. The 34-year-old has spent his entire career with the Phillies. He'd be an upgrade defensively, but doesn't have great power numbers with the bat (he's been in double-digits in homers just once, hitting 16 in 2012). He had a hamstring issue combined with a 25-game suspension (for taking a banned substance) that slowed his first half. But he was stronger in the second half of 2013, hitting all five of his homers and collecting 27 RBIs after the break.
Watch the McCann sweepstakes. Expect the Rangers to be involved. But where that goes and how it ends up could have ripple effects for the rest of the offseason and how this team approaches it.