Texas Rangers: Carlos Ruiz
McCann’s agent, BB Abbott, says it doesn’t change what he and his staff believe McCann’s value is this offseason. But he acknowledges that it could alter how other teams view that market.
“There are certainly teams that are probably looking at the deal and think it has to impact what they’re going to do in this market,” Abbott said. “It doesn’t change what we think of him. But it’s significant in that another catcher is off the market. It’s another puzzle piece that isn’t out there.”
The fact that the Phillies were willing to guarantee three years (at $26 million, according to various reports) to a catcher who turns 35 in January can’t hurt McCann’s attempt to get as much security as possible in his next deal.
Abbott wouldn’t go into any details about the teams that have expressed interest, but said he isn’t in any rush to get a deal done. The Rangers are interested and the buzz at the general manager meetings, according to a variety of reports, was that their interest level was high. McCann’s left-handed power bat would help the Texas lineup and he could catch some, but also DH and learn to play first base, giving Rangers manager Ron Washington some options in terms of filling out the lineup card.
Abbott didn’t want to discuss any of that, vowing not to talk specifics. He said many teams are still talking about their options internally and even looking at trade possibilities with each other.
“That’s to be expected this team of year,” Abbott said. “Brian is going to be coveted on the market. Guys of this magnitude don’t make it to free agency as a catcher. There’s a reason for that. I don’t have any trepidation at all about waiting. If a team wants to move more quickly, we certainly would do that. But I think Brian sits out on an island by himself.”
Abbott said the length of the contract is just one of many factors that McCann will take into account when making his decision.
“First and foremost, he wants to go to a place that he feels can compete and win,” Abbott said. “He wants to be in a place where there’s a good fit, where the coaching staff, clubhouse, and front office are a good fit. He wants to be where it’s a good fit for his family to live. He also wants to make sure he fulfills what he wants out of free agency and that’s the deal he ultimately signs.”
The reality is Ruiz's deal may be really good news for A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, two catchers in that tier below McCann. Stay tuned.
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.
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