12/13/09 4:05 PM EST
Rangers lose Buck to Blue Jays
Texas remains in market for depth behind the plate
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Industry sources said the Rangers made free-agent catcher John Buck an offer on Sunday, one day after Buck was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals. But the Blue Jays made him a better offer on a one-year deal, so Buck is headed for Toronto, leaving the Rangers to continue their search for catching depth.
"Usually, when the non-tender list comes out, there are some catchers, some bullpen options and guys who might be utility infielders," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We'll go over the list and see who we might be interested in."
The Rangers are looking for a right-handed-hitting designated hitter/infielder, and there remains a strong possibility that they could acquire Mike Lowell from the Red Sox for catcher Max Ramirez.
That deal is still on hold while medical records are reviewed. Another possible holdup is the Red Sox are trying to sign free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre to replace Lowell and are having to deal with agent Scott Boras.
The Rangers had interest in first baseman Ryan Garko before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but he was traded by the Indians to the Giants, who have now non-tendered him.
Garko is a right-handed hitter with some power who might complement left-handed-hitting Chris Davis at first base and David Murphy at designated hitter. The Rangers had those thoughts last summer before Garko ended up in San Francisco. For the season, Garko hit .268 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs in 118 games and 400 at-bats, combined, with Cleveland and San Francisco.
But catching still looms as a need the Rangers want to address. The Rangers' prime requirement for a catcher is that he be able to handle a pitching staff and receive well, and Buck fit that description.
But the Blue Jays offered Buck more money and a guaranteed chance to be their starter. The Rangers had a hard time doing that because of the uncertainty surrounding their catching situation.
The Rangers are looking for catching help because of their continued concern over catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's situation. Saltalamacchia, who had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, underwent surgery on Sept. 21 and had a rib bone removed from his right shoulder area that was causing pain, numbness and tingling in his right arm.
But the tingling and numbness returned when Saltalamacchia started playing Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic at the beginning of December, and the Rangers are unsure if Saltamacchia will be ready for Spring Training. Daniels admitted the Rangers are concerned about being caught short at the position, if Saltalamacchia is not ready.
But if Saltalamacchia is ready, the Rangers remain committed to both him and Taylor Teagarden as their catching tandem. A veteran catcher that signs with the Rangers has to consider that possibility.
The Rangers investigated the catching free-agent market during last week's Winter Meetings, but found that most of the top catchers were asking for and receiving two-year deals. The Rangers aren't interested in going there.
There are three catchers left on the market who are either Type A or B free agents. Bengie Molina is Type A and Yorvit Torrealba and Rod Barajas are Type B, and all are looking for at least two-year deals. Jose Molina, the No. 2 catcher for the World Series champion Yankees, is also available.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.