Note: This is part of our Hot Stove Talk series, which profiles free agents and looks at possible trades the Texas Rangers could make this offseason.
Today's player: Carlos Ruiz
We've talked about Brian McCann, the top catcher on the market. But there are some more inexpensive options available should the bidding for McCann reach a level the Rangers aren't willing to go. And with Geovany Soto, they could opt for a one- or two-year deal with a veteran to take some innings off Soto.
One possibility is the 34-year-old Ruiz, someone we mentioned in the middle of last month as part of our offseason question series. He's been with the Philadelphia Phillies his entire career and is coming off a season in which he hit .268 with five homers and 37 RBIs in 92 games. He missed the first 25 games of the season for taking a banned substance and had hamstring issues that slowed him.
But he's a guy that gets on base (a career .358 on-base percentage), though he's only had double-digit home runs once in his career -- he had 16 in 2012, catching 114 games. He's a patient hitter and someone who has worked with a solid pitching staff, two traits that would certainly help him in Texas.
Why he makes sense: Budget. He fits in nicely to a budget that isn't likely to change much from last year. The club wants to fill some holes and if they sign Ruiz, they'd have more money to go after a power hitter or fill another need. Ruiz would give them better defense than another one-year option in A.J. Pierzynski, but he doesn't have Pierzynski's power.
Why he doesn't make sense: It doesn't fix the club's annual revolving door at catcher. It seems that they have to fill the catcher spot every offseason right now without much catching depth in the system (and Jorge Alfaro still not major-league ready). Plus, Ruiz is a right-handed hitter. And this team has plenty of those.
Bottom line: If the price for McCann shoots up much past $15 million a season, Ruiz is a good stopgap option for a year or two. Maybe it can be a one-year deal with a club option or vesting option if the team doesn't want to get involved in a two-year guaranteed deal. But with Soto established as the "primary" catcher, Ruiz may want to go where there's more playing time.