The Rangers announced that they have acquired catcher Bryan Holaday from the Tigers in exchange for right-hander Myles Jaye and catcher Bobby Wilson. In a related move, the Rangers have designated left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman for assignment.
The Rangers have been on the lookout for a catcher this offseason and it appears that the asking prices for their more ambitious targets were too high. Texas was connected to Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy as well as Padres catcher Derek Norris. A little over a week ago, however, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that he was prepared to go into the season with the catchers he already had in camp.
“At this point I anticipate both our catchers are in camp,” Daniels said. “We are open if there is a true improvement to the team, but we’re not going to change for change’s sake.”
Now, Daniels has found what he perceives to be a better understudy for Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers will presumably use Holaday as their No. 2 catcher instead of Chris Gimenez, Michael McKenry, or 2010 sixth-round pick Brett Nicholas, who was said to be having a strong spring. Holaday is not as big of a name as Lucroy, but he came at a much lower cost than the Brewers catcher would have and is also more affordable (Lucroy will earn $4MM in 2016).
Holaday was out-of-options and didn’t have a spot in Detroit with James McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia ahead of him. The 28-year-old TCU product has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons for the Tigers. Over a combined 282 plate appearances, he owns a .251/.283/.340 slash line. In parts of three Triple-A seasons, he has slashed .245/.305/.339.
Wilson, 32, spent time with the Rays and Rangers in 2015 and didn’t do much with his bat in 147 plate appearances (.189 /.255/.250). Of course, Wilson isn’t known much for his offense and instead has built his reputation as an excellent defensive catcher.
Jaye is a 24-year-old right-handed starter. A former 17th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2010, Jaye pitched to a 3.29 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 Double-A outings last year.
Freeman is out-of-options and the Rangers did not have a spot for him on their 40-man roster. The 28-year-old seems likely to get picked up by a team in need of relief help. For his career, Freeman owns a 3.23 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 across four big league seasons.