Texas Rangers: John Buck

Catcher remains high on club's priority list

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday that the catching market is thin enough that he’s “not sure we’re going to have our long-term answer at catcher this offseason.”

Daniels acknowledged that there aren’t a bunch of options at the position, which is one reason the team is looking at its two catchers from 2012 – Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto.

The club met with Napoli on Wednesday and they must make a decision on whether to go through the arbitration process with Soto or non-tender him. Daniels said he had nothing to announce on Soto. The club could work out a deal with Soto before the 11 p.m. Friday deadline. If they don’t and the team decides to non-tender him, Soto would become a free agent.

But the Rangers go into the winter meetings in Nashville next week trying to figure out what they’re going to do at catcher. Napoli wants a multi-year deal, and he’s enjoyed his two seasons in Texas. Perhaps something can be worked out there. If not, the Rangers will do what they can in the free agent market or with trades.

“It’s a little bit of a game of musical chairs,” Daniels said. “There’s limited supply as far as guys available. We’re still looking at our options.”

A.J. Pierzynski is on the market. The Toronto Blue Jays have a surplus of catchers, including J.P. Arencibia and John Buck, so maybe the two sides could hook up on a trade. But catcher remains a question mark as the meetings begin and something the club has high on its priority list.

Winter Meetings shopping list: Catcher

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
11:00
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Editor's note: We continue our look at some of the needs the Texas Rangers hope to address at the winter meetings next week in Nashville.

Today's position: Catcher

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels knows it won't be easy filling holes at catcher this offseason.

"It's probably a better year to be a catcher than a team needing a catcher," Daniels said Monday.

Well, this week the club has catching on its mind. First, the team was scheduled to meet with Mike Napoli and his representative, Brian Grieper, on Wednesday to get a better idea of where the market is for Napoli and what it might take to bring him back for 2013 and beyond. Napoli didn't have the 2012 season he hoped, hitting just .227 and battling a left quadriceps strain that sidelined him for a month. He wasn't able to duplicate the .383 second-half average and his memorable postseason in 2011, but he did manage to hit 24 homers and collect 56 RBIs. And he had a .812 OPS.

It was not an easy call for the Rangers to decide not to make Napoli a $13.3 million qualifying offer. The catching market is thin in free agency this year, but the team wasn't ready to shell out that kind of money that early in the offseason. But it's clear they still want Napoli in a Rangers uniform, if the right deal is available. They know he can help them and provide power, not to mention a great personality in the clubhouse and someone who understands the pitching staff.

The Rangers could be in position soon to make a decision about their other catcher. Geovany Soto, acquired at the trade deadline, is arbitration eligible. The club has until Friday night to tender him an offer or allow him to be a free agent. But they could also work out a deal with Soto to bring him back. He hit .196 while in Texas (.199 in Chicago), but also did a nice job with the pitching staff using humor to try to keep the hurlers loose.

It's possible that both catchers return. If not, A.J. Pierzynski and Russell Martin are free agents who could garner interest, though if Martin wants a four-year deal, I'd doubt he'd get that from the Rangers. With the megatrade the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off with the Miami Marlins earlier this offseason, Toronto now has additional catching. Perhaps they'd part with John Buck or J.P. Arencibia. Would they consider dealing top prospect Travis d'Arnaud? Others are out there too, such as Kelly Shoppach, for instance. But overall, it's not exactly a deep group.

Let's see how much clarity the Rangers get on catching this week, which should help them narrow things down a bit heading into the winter meetings.

Hot Stove: Blue Jays catchers

November, 23, 2012
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8:38
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The Texas Rangers need catching help and the Toronto Blue Jays have a surplus of catchers. So it makes sense that the two teams could at least talk about the options.

Toronto has catchers J.P. Arencibia, John Buck and Travis D'Arnaud. A report out said the Rangers were interested in Arencibia and Buck (I bet they'd also be interested in D'Arnaud, one of the top prospects in the game, but the price is certainly going to be high).

Arencibia, who turns 27 in January, had 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 2012. But he hit just .233 and had a .275 on-base percentage. In his career, Arencibia is averaging 29 homers per 162 games. He's arbitration-eligible after the 2013 season, so he'd be under club control through 2016.

Some other interesting numbers on Arencibia: He has five homers in 31 at-bats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has more homers in Arlington than any other road location.

Buck, 32, has one year left on the three-year contract he signed with the Miami Marlins prior to the 2011 season. He'll make $6 million and I can't think he'd cost much on the trade market. He hit .192 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He batted .227 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 2011 (not quite the impressive 2010 numbers he put up: .281 average, 20 homers, 66 RBIs). He's a right-handed hitter and, again, would give them some power. But at $6 million, is he worth it? Geovany Soto hit .198 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 2012. Those numbers are nearly identical to Buck. The Rangers must decide by the end of next week whether to offer Soto arbitration. He could cost $5 million or so if they do.

I'm intrigued by Arencibia as a catching option and I think his power could play nicely in Arlington. Certainly, it makes sense to talk to Toronto and see what the price tag is for the catchers. What do you think about these catchers?

Question: Who will catch next season?

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
8:00
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7 Offseason Questions
ESPN.com Illustration
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?

Wild pitch gives Blue Jays early edge

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
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Tommy Hunter threw a strike-out wild pitch to Toronto Blue Jays catcher John Buck in the second inning, costing the Rangers a run.

Taylor Teagarden failed to get in front of the pitch, then once he recovered, opted to make a risky throw to home instead of first, but Hunter couldn't make a play at the plate.

Hunter, visibly agitated, struck out Travis Snider to end the inning down 1-0.

Jays complete sweep of Rangers, 5-2

May, 16, 2010
5/16/10
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The Rangers outhit Toronto, 9-3, on Sunday, but the Blue Jays made the most of their hits to complete a three-game home sweep with a 5-2 victory.

On the bright side, the Rangers will return home with no worse than a one-game lead over the Oakland Athletics. The A's lost the first two of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, with Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. The third-place Angels, who trailed the Rangers by three games pending the result of their third game against the A's, come to Arlington for a quick two-game series Monday and Tuesday. (UPDATE: The Angels completed the sweep and come to Texas 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers and a half-game behind Oakland.)

* The efficient Blue Jays went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners. The Rangers didn't take advantage of their chances, going 2-for-8 with RISP and stranding five. The Rangers hit into three double plays and had a runner caught stealing.

* Each team loaded the bases once. When the Jays did it with two outs in the sixth, John Buck's double plated three runs. Texas did it with no outs in the seventh, but pinch hitter Vladimir Guerrero grounded into a double play and the Rangers only mustered one run in the inning.

* The Blue Jays' pitching staff pumped up its strikeout totals during the three-game sweep with 11 more. The Rangers struck out six times Friday and 12 more times during Saturday's shutout by Ricky Romero. Nelson Cruz (four strikeouts in four at-bats) and Josh Hamilton (three) had the toughest time making contact for the Rangers on Sunday. That's seven strikeouts in his last eight at-bats for Hamilton.

* The Rangers' relievers did their job, with 2 1/3 hitless innings. Chris Ray walked the first batter he faced, but the bullpen retired the next seven hitters, five by strikeout, to finish up. Darren Oliver and Frank Francisco each struck out two in an inning of work.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 73
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182