At the beginning of Spring Training, the Texas Rangers had four catchers with a legitimate shot at making the big-league roster: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, Max Ramirez, and Adam Melhuse.
Ramirez has been just a bit behind, as his native Venezuela had a long run in the World Baseball Classic. He will likely start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City to continue to work on his defensive skills. Max could be brought up to the Bigs again if either Salty or Teagarden get injured or struggle.
Melhuse used this spring to audition for the Major Leagues for the second time. Even though he hit .632 (12-19), the Rangers told him yesterday that he can look at other teams and attempt to make their rosters. This means he can get out of his contract with the Rangers in order to join another team or he can take the option to drop down to the minors.
Teagarden will be the back-up catcher to start the season, but if Salty struggles as he did last year, then it is likely Taylor could see significant time behind the plate. Teagarden has had a couple of minor injury issues that have limited his time in Spring Training and was never able to put up much of a fight with Salty for the starting role.
Salty’s time as a back-up or the less-important platoon catcher has come to an end. Unlike last year, when Salty and Gerald Laird split time, this year the job is his until he loses it. He has always had the power to be a ML hitter; his problems have been consistency and ability to work with the pitching staff. Fortunately, he has identified and worked on both areas throughout winter ball and Spring Training.
Unless there is an unforeseen injury or trade, Salty will be squatting behind home for the majority of the campaign, Teagarden will still get opportunities to prove himself, and Ramirez will get to be the everyday catcher in the minors to work on his skills.