The Texas Rangers have somewhat had themselves an embarrassment of riches when it comes to personnel the last couple of seasons. One area where they suffered before the 2011 season was the catching position. They fixed that in a quick hurry by adding Mike Napoli through a trade, and by signing Yorvit Torrealba to a 2 year deal. Torrealba, who signed at the end of November 2010, was a potential starter for the Rangers until Napoli came along. Once again, Torrealba was going to have to share time.
After Napoli destroyed baseballs for a lot of the 2011 season, it appears that Texas might be willing to move Torrealba, and go with Napoli behind the dish on a more regular basis. You can’t necessarily blame the Rangers, Torrealba does have some value, but he is someone who is kind of extra, and could be used in a deal to help them elsewhere.
Here is a look at Torrealba as a trade candidate for the Tigers.
Torrealba is a right-handed hitting catcher who will turn 34 during the 2012 season. After spending most of his career in the National League, except for a brief stint with Seattle in 2005, Torrealba hit .273 in 2011 with an OPS of .705. Torrealba hit 7 home runs and drove in 37 runs in 396 at-bats. According to Fangraphs, Torrealba accumulated 1.1 WAR on the season in 113 games, which represents a pretty average player. He did have a strong playoffs with the bat this past season, going 6 for 17 for the Rangers. Basically, he is a borderline starter/reserve, and of course with Alex Avila on the Tigers, he would be the right handed version of a platoon.
Torrealba isn’t a great player, but there are certainly things to like. One, he fits what the Tigers are looking for. A part time option that hits from the right hand side. Over the course of Torrealba’s career, he hits .262 against left-handed pitching, which is slightly better than what he hits against right-handers at .259. Given that there isn’t a huge platoon split, there should be some confidence that if Avila went down with injury, Torrealba could handle duties full-time until Alex Avila got back.
Offensively he is a solid player. He isn’t going to provide a team with a bunch of power, or with a good on base percentage, but he holds his own batting average wise. He has pretty good gap power, and he doesn’t strike out a ton. His career slugging pct of .390 is respectable, if not solid, and he gets a decent amount of doubles. Torrealba shows good athleticism for a mid 30′s catcher.
Defensively, he is also very solid, and for the most part has been a little above average in his career. He handles the running game well, throwing out 30% of base stealers over the course of his career. As a receiver, he isn’t going to improve at this point, and isn’t anything more than average, perhaps a little bit below. He is pretty agile, but he does allow his fair share of passed balls and wild pitches. Certainly not to the extent however, that you can’t be comfortable putting him behind the plate for 40-50 games.
I don’t think there is a lot negative to talk about Torrealba here. If you are talking about him being a starter, yeah, there could be some negatives, but as a backup, he is a fit for the Tigers. One thing that Torrealba lacks is plate discipline. He has good hand-eye coordination, but he doesn’t draw walks. Over the course of his career, he walks in just 6.9% of his plate appearances. Ideally, he would be more patient, but that is kind of nitpicking for a guy who has for the most part been a part-time player.
I don’t see why the Rangers wouldn’t make Torrealba available. Napoli is going to get most of the time behind the plate, and even if he doesn’t, the Rangers are probably looking for a left-handed hitting catcher to go with Napoli. Torrealba also makes 3.25M in 2012, and while that isn’t a ton of money, the Rangers could be looking for a more defensive minded value player at that spot. Torrealba is a better defensive player than Napoli, but given that he is a right-handed hitter, there is a little redundancy there, especially given that Napoli’s bat can make up for a lot of defensive deficiencies.
It’s always difficult to say what a team may be looking for in a potential deal. I would venture to guess that Torrealba would require a mid level prospect or two in return, and it would be worth it to the Tigers. They must find a guy that can spell Avila, and a right-handed bat is way more ideal. Torrealba fits the bill of a guy who can provide what the Tigers are looking for. They would just have to decide if the cost of the prospects, and the 3.25M would be worth it, over a right-handed backup on the free agent market.
I’ve mentioned maybe bringing back Gerald Laird. Torrealba is a much better player than Laird, and if he could be gotten for the right price, I say go for it.