It’s hardly a blockbuster deal, but the Texas Rangers just took a significant step toward taking control of the AL West. The Rangers have obtained veteran catcher Benjie Molina from the Giants, sending reliever Chris Ray to San Francisco along with a player to be named later. Assuming that the still to be determined player is of little significance, this shapes up as a trade that makes sense for both teams.
Molina has struggled this year for the Giants. He started the season in okay form, but the 35-year-old senior member of baseball’s first family of catchers has hit below .200 over the last six weeks and his importance to the Giants was decreasing by the day.
San Francisco needs to get mega-prospect Buster Posey behind the plate on a regular basis, with an adequate backup in Eli Whiteside . On a team that lacks big power, Molina’s base-clogging tendencies were becoming a liability.
I thought bringing Molina back for one more season made some sense given his experience working with the Giants pitching staff, but if San Francisco is going to make a run at the NL West title, they need to generate more offense, and Molina was coming up way short on that count.
I’m also of the belief, however, that acquiring Molina is a meaningful score for the Rangers. He’ll fit in well with this team offensively, hitting toward the bottom of the order, and the move to a hitter’s haven should spark Molina’s bat. He also helps fill the most pressing need in the everyday Texas lineup.
While Matt Treanor has hit reasonably well lately, he’s still a .233 lifetime batter and his best role is as a backup who can give the Rangers a couple of starts each week. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is in AAA trying to resurrect his career after falling prey to a bad case of the dreaded yips.
Defensively suspect Max Ramirez is simply not producing enough offense to justify big league playing time. Former high-end prospect Taylor Teagarden is basically off the screen completely, and is now struggling to hit AA pitching.
Molina should solve the problems behind the dish. He’s clearly an upgrade with the bat, and Molina has always shown an ability to work well with young pitchers.
The Rangers should not miss Ray very much. He wasn’t doing a bad job for Texas, but they’ve got lots of arms to fill the necessary innings. Ray’s role with the Rangers wasn’t especially crucial to their success. He figures to be of similar use to the Giants filling one of the final two spots in their pen.
I don’t see this as the type of deal where there has to be a winner and a loser. I probably favor the Rangers by a bit, mainly because they filled a void on the cheap and it cost them very little to do so. But it’s not like the Giants were going to garner an important commodity for Molina at this point, and in fact, from their perspective, this could be addition by subtraction.
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