Taylor Teagarden Rumors
Though Kansas City boasts the game's best farm system, they don't have a clear-cut catcher of the future now that the powerful Wil Myers has moved to the outfield. Salvador Perez, a 20-year-old backstop who placed 17th among Baseball America's preseason list of top Royals prospects, hasn't played above Class A, so the Royals are looking elsewhere for catchers.
As Rosenthal notes, the Rangers and Nationals have a number of catchers and could be potential trading partners for Kansas City. The Royals have had interest in Taylor Teagarden before, according to Rosenthal, and since the Rangers already have Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Treanor and Mike Napoli at the Major League level, it would not be a surprise to see them listen to offers for Teagarden.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have a surplus of catchers and are open to dealing one of them. The Nats have Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos, and Derek Norris and would consider trading catching for pitching.
The Padres and Astros are among the other teams that could have interest in trading for a catcher this spring.
Here are some items of note from clubs out on the West Coast ...
- The Dodgers don't yet have a plan for right-hander Vicente Padilla, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Padilla, last year's Opening Day starter, could (again) start, close or be a long-reliever, depending on injuries. Padilla's base salary reflects that, Hernandez writes. His base salary is for $2MM, but he can earn an additional $8MM in incentives for starting or $6.8MM for relieving.
- The Rangers once again are well-stocked with catchers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, but this year, as opposed to previous years, they have a clear-cut starter in Yorvit Torrealba. Still, they have three other useful backstops in Matt Treanor, Mike Napoli and Taylor Teagarden, but because Treanor has a Major League deal and Napoli is a strong hitter and versatile defender, Teagarden, who still has minor league options, appears to be the odd man out.
- The Diamondbacks are experimenting with finding some more at-bats this spring for roster hopeful Micah Owings, writes Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Owings, a right-handed pitcher, is in camp on a minor league deal and is vying for the long-relief job out of the bullpen, but he could improve his chances of breaking camp with the club because he can be used as a pinch-hitter and perhaps even as a first baseman, on occasion.
- Padres right-hander Dustin Moseley, who signed a Major League deal with San Diego in December, will pitch out of the bullpen if he doesn't crack the starting rotation, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. Generally regarded as a swing man, Moseley chose the Friars over a handful of other suitors for the chance to win a starting job.
Jose Molina is the Rangers' "No.1 target" in the free agent catching market, reports Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Molina and Rod Barajas each turned down minor-league deals from Texas, with Wilson saying that Molina "isn't in a hurry to sign until some other catchers set the early-spring market."
Molina could also be holding out for a situation where he would have a better chance at a steady role, given that he would be one of seven catchers in the Rangers camp. Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are the favorites to win or share the starting job, but Saltalamacchia's September shoulder surgery has left Texas looking for a veteran backstop in case their young star isn't ready for Opening Day. Wilson points out that Toby Hall (another experienced catcher signed to a minor-league deal by Texas last month) and Molina share the same agent.
Molina .217/.292/.268 in 155 plate appearances for the Yankees last season. He has a career OPS of .609 in 10 major league seasons.
The possible sale of the Texas Rangers from current owner Tom Hicks to a group led by Chuck Greenberg won't have any major repercussions on the team's current front-office composition or any of their planned winter transactions. In regards to the front office, Rangers president Nolan Ryan told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that should the sale go through, there won't be any "drastic changes" to how the club operates in the short-term, though "any areas of immediate need" will be addressed once the new ownership team has had a chance to fully assess things. Ryan himself is probably a big reason for this continuity, given that he is part of Greenberg's ownership group and will retain his position under the new regime.
Sullivan also heard from Texas GM Jon Daniels that the sale shouldn't interfere with any trades or signings the Rangers might have in the works, but the club is prepared to shift gears if necessary. Daniels told Sullivan, "We are not changing our plans, but we will evaluate anything or be happy to adjust when that time comes. Nolan and I have discussed that possibility and it could certainly give us some options at some point....The timing of that is unclear, but we're going forward with the same plans and financial parameters. And if that changes, we will adjust."
Daniels also discussed what some of these plans might entail in regards to what's left on the Texas wish list...
- Daniels said the team is more likely to bring in a second-tier veteran catcher or two to provide depth, rather than look for an everyday catcher. The GM said the club is satisfied with their current catching corps of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Richardson.
- The Rangers are one of many, many teams interested in Matt Capps, and also "have ongoing talks" about free agent reliever Darren Oliver.
- The ever-impending Mike Lowell-for-Max Ramirez trade will hopefully be finalized this week when Lowell undergoes a physical.
- Daniels said there is "a decent chance" the team will sign another starting pitcher for depth purposes.
- The door isn't closed on Texas signing a free agent bat like Jermaine Dye or Vladimir Guerrero, if their price is right.
- The Rangers would like a utility infielder, but "that seems to be low on their priorities."
The Texas Rangers have an embarrassment of riches behind the plate, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez all checking in at age 25 or younger. Saltalamacchia has received the most playing time at the big league level this year, hitting .255-.307-.411 in 153 plate appearances, but Teagarden has put up a more than respectable .347 OBP in 49 PA as Salty's backup. Ramirez is stashed away in Triple-A after putting up a .217-.345-.370 line in 55 PA last year.
With the team currently sporting a 4.5 game lead in the AL West and young catching always in demand, is now the time for the Rangers to make a move and push for the franchise's first playoff berth in 1999? Could a package centered around one of those three catchers plus one of Texas' promising young arms be enough to entice the Astros to move Roy Oswalt? What do you guys think?
Mike Axisa writes for River Ave. Blues.
Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that the signing of Jason Varitek "should end any more talk of Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden being traded to Boston."
Saltalamacchia will head into spring training atop the Rangers' catching depth chart, but Teagarden can win himself consideration with a strong showing in camp. Salty, 23, hit .253 last season with three home runs and 26 RBI in 198 at-bats. Teagarden, 25, batted .319 with six dingers and 17 RBI in 47 at-bats during a short time with the big league club.
Some quick notes from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
- The Twins and Giants will be monitoring Joe Crede's workouts in Arizona next week. Both teams have had ongoing interest this month.
- The Twins and Rangers are continuing to seriously consider Eric Gagne.
- Cafardo notes the growing sentiment among middle-market teams that patience could land an all star caliber player for a "low-risk one-year deal."
- Milwaukee would prefer to save and make a "Sabathia-like" deadline deal rather than spend now.
- Adam Melhuse signing with Texas could be a signal that Taylor Teagarden or Jarrod Saltalamacchia are en route to the Red Sox. Cafardo cautions that's probably not the case since the Rangers have not come down on their asking price of Clay Buchholz.
- Watch for the Cubs to reengage the Padres and Jake Peavy now that they have found an owner in billionaire Tom Ricketts.
5:41pm: Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed interest in Looper but denied that they're close to a deal. Melvin would not say whether the Brewers made an offer, but suggested Looper and the Brewers' other targets want multiyear deals.
10:28am: In the "Etc." section of his Sunday update, Nick Cafardo has some updated information on a few free agents, as well as some potential trades.
- Updating a key part of the back-of-the-rotation market, Cafardo says Braden Looper is "close to signing with the Brewers."
- The Diamondbacks and Red Sox may soon revisit the possibility of an Eric Byrnes trade. Such a deal would likely be made more enticing for the Sox if Miguel Montero were somehow included.
- The Red Sox would really rather not move Clay Buchholz for a catcher, even if that catcher were Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden of the Texas Rangers. However, Daniel Bard may be in play for a potential deal with Texas.
- The Reds, Indians, Pirates and Giants are all in the mix for Ty Wigginton. Back on Dec. 18, we had a Wigginton update in an Odds and Ends post that said the player was not interested in returning to Pittsburgh.
Other topics of note (found on page 5 of Cafardo's article) include the Tampa Bay Rays' plan for a DH upgrade, as well as some notes on Derek Lowe and Manny Ramirez.
Alex Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6:13pm: Yahoo's Gordon Edes says the Tigers made overtures to Wood, while the Red Sox like the idea of signing him as a setup man.
4:36pm: Geoff Baker says Tigers prospect Jeff Larish has attracted interest from the Mariners in the past.
On the Kerry Wood topic, a thought - now that the Tigers spent only a million bucks on their shortstop, maybe they have more cash to work with for their closer.
1:29pm: According to Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers are targeting Kerry Wood and J.J. Putz for their closer vacancy. The Mets are also competing for both relievers.
Also, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick notes that the Tigers considered trading for Angels catcher Mike Napoli before they acquired Laird. The price for Napoli was too high. WEEI reports that the Tigers also inquired on Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. The Tigers decided against Jason Varitek after he was offered arbitration, plus they liked Laird more anyway. According to WEEI's Lou Merloni, Varitek continues to seek a multiyear deal and a starting gig.
While not making any drastic reductions, the Rangers may be shedding payroll says Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. This could make available Gerald Laird, Hank Blalock, Kevin Millwood, and Vincente Padilla.
"'I wouldn't say we're in cost-cutting mode, but we're certainly conscious of all our expenditures,' [GM Jon] Daniels said. 'We're going to look at all the ways to improve our club. For the most part, we've been focused on trying to add players who fit with our long-term plan. Those are younger players.' ... With more than $51 million committed to seven players and the desire to keep payroll at about the same level as last year ($67 million), some trimming may be necessary."
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said its "reasonable" the Rangers would trade a catcher before Christmas, they have the depth to trade from the position and would prefer to hold onto their younger cheaper options of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Says Grant of a possible Laird trade,
"If the Rangers are willing to accept a mid-level minor league pitching prospect, a deal could come together quickly."
Blalock's $6.2MM option was exercised for 2009 but he's in a logjam at first base with Chris Davis. His willingness to move back to third actually increases his appeal to other clubs not looking for a first base/designated hitter type.
Millwood and Padilla are due $11MM and $12MM respectively and are entering contract years.