The emergence of Jose Trevino as a legitimate starter has forced the Texas Rangers hand when it comes to the catcher position moving forward.
Entering the season the Texas Rangers had a trio of catchers on their Opening Day roster all essentially vying for two spots. Offseason free agent addition Robinson Chirinos’ spot was a foregone conclusion leaving Jose Trevino and veteran Jeff Mathis to battle it out for the second spot. When the rosters were trimmed from 30 players to 28, Trevino lost out on that roster spot and was optioned back to the alternate training site.
The decision was somewhat understandable. Trevino still had options available to him and Mathis was seen as a bit of necessity to catch Mike Minor with whom he’s built a strong rapport. If Texas wanted to go with Trevino they would have to let Mathis go via release and eat the rest of his salary. That wasn’t a decision they were completely against, but felt it best served to keep Mathis around.
On August 14 though Chirinos was placed on the 10-day IL with a sprained ankle opening up a spot on the roster for Jose Trevino. There was a general feeling that Trevino’s call up should be a permanent move as the 27-year old has clearly accomplished as much as he could at the minor league level and was ready for a full-time MLB jump.
Since Trevino’s promotion though he’s put away any doubt on who the best catcher in the organization is right now. Trevino is fresh off another multi-hit night against the Mariners on Saturday, his fifth multi-hit game since he was recalled and fourth in a row. His average is now a stunning .367 with a .987 OPS in 10 games. While that offensive production isn’t sustainable long-term, he clearly has more offensive upside than either Mathis or Chirinos at this point and is the best of the trio defensively.
Now, with Chirinos eligible to be activated off the IL on Monday, the Rangers have a decision to make. Optioning Trevino isn’t an option, at least it shouldn’t be. Assuming Chirinos is ready to be activated, it seems hard to believe Texas would choose Mathis over him, partially due to the contracts each of them are signed to.
That leaves the choices of release Mathis or carrying three catchers on the roster. With Texas shifting into a mode of cycling in young players as they evaluate talent for next season, carrying three catchers, two of which are vastly underperforming offensively and well past 30, that seems like a shortsighted move. That means Texas has to come to the decision to part ways with Jeff Mathis.
The downside of losing Mathis is clearly the relationship he’s established with the pitching staff, particularly Mike Minor. However, holding on to him only delays any development that could be afforded to others, namely Trevino. With the Texas Rangers quickly dropping out of contention, any benefit to this season carries little value. The focus of the team though should be centered around letting Trevino develop at the big league level with hopes that he can solidify his spot as your primary catcher for next season.