If the Texas Rangers want to add a catcher this offseason, they’ll have to take free agent Jason Castro off their list following his deal with the Angels.
The Texas Rangers are reportedly still in the mix for catching help this offseason but free options are starting to dwindle as top option, Jason Castro has reportedly signed with the Angels. Castro joined Robinson Chirinos as the top free agent options remaining at the start of the New Year. Mark Feinsand reported early Thursday morning that Robinson Chirinos seemed to be one of the next few free agent dominos to fall signaling that the catching market was starting to wrap up. Now, following the Castro deal, really only Chirinos remains as a possible major upgrade.
The Rangers got historically awful production from their catching group last season which featured a mix of Jeff Mathis, Tim Federowicz, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino. The Kiner-Falefa as a catcher experiment seems to have failed so he’ll remain with the club as a utility man. Federowicz has returned to the organization on a minor league deal and likely will provide depth in the upper levels of the minors. That leaves Jose Trevino and Jeff Mathis as the tandem set to take on catching duties in the 2020 season.
While Trevino had some bright spots in his late season call up, having him as the best of your two catching options is a bit concerning, especially for a club looking to contend. And there is no question that Trevino is the better option on the roster as of now. Mathis, who was brought in last offseason for his defensive prowess, had a poor year that has many fans calling for an end in his time in Arlington. Mathis hit just .158 in 88 games for Texas with a dismal .209 on-base percentage. His .433 OPS was the worst on the team and he posted a -2.1 fWAR. His defensive metrics weren’t great either especially considering that was the whole point of bringing him in. Mathis finished 86th amongst catchers with a -2.8 FRAA per Baseball Prospectus.
Of the remaining free agents, former Rangers fan favorite Robinson Chirinos is the best and most logical option. He had a resurgent year for the Astros in 2019 and can still be an impact bat in his mid-30’s. If the Rangers opted for the trade route, we’ve talked about the possibility of Willson Contreras who could be dealt from the Chicago Cubs.
It feels more and more like the Rangers could be in the market for a catcher this offseason as they look for alternative plans after missing out on their top free agent options. While third base entered the offseason as their top need, the Rangers could look to add multiple positions of need and have been linked with top free agent outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nick Castellanos. If they went that route, it would make more sense to invest resources behind the plate and boost the overall team.