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Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Question: Who will catch next season?

By Richard Durrett

7 Offseason Questions
As part of our ongoing 7 Offseason Questions series, we turn our attention behind the plate.

Question: Who will catch for the Rangers in 2011?

It's a complicated question that isn't easy to answer at this point. The position is certainly a priority for general manager Jon Daniels and his staff this offseason.

Last season was proof that things can change in an instant. The Rangers headed into 2010 with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden as its catchers. Before the first week was over, Saltalamacchia was on the disabled list and never played for the Rangers in the big leagues again. Teagarden went through a rough slump, was sent to Double-A Frisco before eventually returning for a much better stint later in the season. But Teagarden was not on the postseason roster and is not considered a starter for the 2011 season.

Texas ended up going with Matt Treanor for much of the first three months before trading for Bengie Molina at the end of June. Molina ended up playing more games in the second half, but Treanor also got some time as manager Ron Washington utilized both of his veteran catchers.

Molina hit just .240 with two homers and 19 RBIs in 57 games for the Rangers. But he was a beast in the postseason, batting .293 with two homers and 8 RBIs. He hit a huge home run in Game 4 of the ALCS to help the Rangers take control of the series. Molina dropped off in the World Series, but so did his teammates as the Rangers hit just .190 as a team.

Treanor, 34, played in 82 games, the most of his career. He hit .211 with five homers and 27 RBIs in the regular season. But he did a nice job with the Rangers' pitching staff and was a tough competitor the team could count on to go out there and get the job done.

The question is whether both return in 2011. Molina hinted pretty strongly after the World Series that he's thinking of retiring at age 36. But the Rangers are interested in bringing Treanor back for next season as a very capable backup (and personal catcher for C.J. Wilson, of course).

That means shifting attention to acquiring, either through trade or the free-agent market, a starting catcher. A couple of players the club would likely discuss: John Buck and Victor Martinez.

Martinez makes sense if Vladimir Guerrero doesn't return. He could catch, but also DH and even play first base if needed. Martinez is also a switch hitter, which is intriguing.

Buck, 30, hit .281 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs, all career-best numbers for him. He played in 118 games and has played in at least 109 games in five of his seven seasons.

Others to consider: Gerald Laird and Rod Barajas (former Rangers catchers), Ramon Hernandez, Yorvit Torrealba and Ramon Hernandez.

Who would you go with at catcher? Who should the Rangers target?