In an ongoing series, we'll address offseason questions the Texas Rangers have to answer.
Today, we'll discuss what the Rangers' plans should be going forward in the catching department.
Last season was kind of a disaster behind the plate. Yorvit Torrealba was so bad, he got designated for assignment after the Rangers traded for a guy that had a season batting average below .200. That pretty much sums it up.
Mike Napoli didn't help himself by having his monster second half of the 2011 season and securing what would've been World Series MVP honors had the Rangers been able to get one more strike — twice. We warned going into last season that Napoli couldn't be expected to continue that type of play, and we were right. Napoli is a career .259 hitter, and that number is buoyed quite a bit by his .320 average in 2011 — nearly 50 points higher than his previous career high. He also battled injury in 2012 and struggled with consistency, but he did still manage to hit 24 home runs.
Soto came over from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline and immediately was a hit with the Rangers' pitching staff. The guy can call a good game and is a better defensive catcher than Napoli, though he struggled to throw runners out. The former NL Rookie of the Year was hitting .199 when he came to Texas, and hit .196 in Texas. Yuck.
Soto is a good guy to have on your team, but not so sure he's a guy you want as your everyday catcher. The free agent market is awful when it comes to catchers, with Napoli being the top guy out there, which means he'll probably command a pretty big salary. Something working in the Rangers' favor is that he didn't have a good year and he could be interested in coming back on a 1-year deal to build his value back up. If he is, great. Bring him back. But you're not going to want to get in any bidding wars over Napoli.
On the trade market there are a couple of names, including Toronto's J.P. Arencibia, who's cheap and isn't a free agent until 2017. At 26, he'd be a great piece to get after hitting .233 with 18 bombs for the Blue Jays.
So you can go one of two ways, bring back Napoli on a 1-year deal and platoon he and Soto, or you can send a package to Toronto for Arencibia and be set for years to come. Take your pick.