Texas Rangers 2020 Preview – Catchers

Another World Series in the books, and it was a historical event as the Washington Nationals won it on the road in Houston. Consequently, now that it’s all over, we can focus on the Texas Rangers and what’s behind the plate in our first installment of positional breakdowns.

 Who’s Available to Us Now? 

Jeff Mathis, Jose Trevino – although in a pinch, Isiah Kiner-Falefa could jump back behind the plate, but chances are very slim.

Trask Smith/ UPI

2019 at a Glance

 Without a doubt, the Rangers got what they wanted defensively out of this group.  For instance, Trevino and Mathis averaged .994 fielding on the season.  Mathis is highly respected for his ability to work with veteran pitchers and astute game planning.  However, I don’t believe they were expecting such a dip on the offensive end after letting Robinson Chirinos walk out the door and down the road to Houston. Trevino joined the big-league Texas Rangers squad in early August once the Isiah Kiner-Falefa experiment was over, and after splitting time between AAA Nashville and AA Frisco.  The most efficient hitter was Trevino, sporting a .258/.272/.383 line, according to FanGraphs.

Something to Build On For 2020-Forward

Undoubtedly, Trevino’s lefty splits, although small in sample size, are at least interesting enough to consider him a platoon option.  In 41 plate appearances, his .333/.341/.538 line against LHP suggests that he is more than capable of going into spring training as a viable option.  Even if no moves are made in free agency, the Rangers could feel they need to see more of Trevino before deciding what to do long term.

Before the 2019 season, Texas allowed Robinson Chirinos to walk in favor of a more defense-minded approach behind the plate. Enter Jeff Mathis. Is Mathis a positive addition to the clubhouse? Absolutely. Is he a top-notch defender? Yep. Could he hit water falling out of a boat? Hyperbole aside, no. As a result, Mathis and his peers finished dead last in the positional category in all Major League Baseball. In other words, even when focusing on defense, 42 points below the Mendoza Line won’t make most Major League rosters. At least not for long.

USA Today

Above all, the Texas Rangers have in Trevino what they have in Mathis defensively, and possibly more.  This bodes the question: If Trevino had been on the opening day roster, would we have seen the same terrible play from the Catcher corps?  Not likely.

Sam Huff, the 6’4, 230 lb. Post-Season, All-Star Arizona native, provides an appealing thought a season after winning the MLB Futures Game MVP award in 2019. Understanding that Jeff Mathis has another year left on his contract unless the Rangers want to pay him $3M to walk out the door, Huff may be a 2021 Texas Ranger. But what if he’s not? The April 2019 MILB.com South Atlantic League Player of the Month, Huff is all but locked in the primary catcher role for the Single-A Down East Wood Ducks. If he remains as productive as the current corps is unproductive, we may see him in a Rangers uniform sooner than later. 

Between Single-A Clubs Hickory and Down East, Huff finished the 2019 season with 28 HRs, and a .278/.335/.509 batting line. He was also a 2018 Mid-Season All-Star and Organizational All-Star. The kid is solid.

A popular thought is that a position change would be a long-term goal for Huff, but for now, the Rangers could use a spark behind the plate. Someone like Huff could be just what Texas Rangers Manager Chris Woodward is looking for to provide that spark. 

Just Spitballin’ Here

Along with the team’s budget increase, the high quality of players available makes it safe to venture that the Texas Rangers will be in the top tier mix during free agency. For example, Yasmani Grandal and Robinson Chirinos lead the Free Agent pack at the Catcher position for the 2020 season. Nonetheless, there are more glaring holes at SP and 3B.

Holding Down the Fort

Its possible Texas goes after someone like a Stephen Vogt type who could platoon with Trevino. Vogt (a lefty hitter) has a similar, but opposite splits to Trevino.  Unfortunately, this would entail eating the $3M salary that Mathis has left with the club. On the other hand, Vogt could be brought in for a dirt-cheap premium after posting a .271/.330/.505 batting line vs. LHP in 99 games with the San Francisco Giants.  He, much like Mathis, has a wealth of experience and is an absolute delight to have in the locker room.


Most recent Texas Rangers Transactions

11/4/2019

LHP Taylor Hearn activated form 60-day injured list.

RHP Jesse Chavez activated from 60-day injured list.

OF Joey Gallo activated from 60-day injured list.

C Tim Federowicz outrighted to AAA Nashville Sounds (elected Free Agency)


Billy Graves is a Sports Writer for Overtime Heroics.

Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!

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