The San Francisco Giants have traded catcher Bengie Molina to the Texas Rangers for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later, USA Today reports .
The deal is pending approval from commissioner Bud Selig and should be official shortly.
The deal makes sense from both sides. The Rangers are hurting at catcher and have had to go with Matt Treanor and Max Ramirez as the backstops after Jarrod Saltalamacchia had his season derailed by injury and the yips while Taylor Teagarden has been a mark of offensive futility so far.
Treanor is a 34-year-old backup catcher while Max Ramirez is an unproven rookie with questions about defense.
Molina, at .257/.312/.332 through 221 plate appearances, isn't exactly lighting the world on fire but does have a history of being able to hit the longball and should find the going easier after moving to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Defensively, Molina is also a strong defender, which is no surprise given the Molina pedigree in the bigs.
Saltalamacchia does deserve to head back to the majors and figures to do that at some point, but its clear the team isn't ready to rely on him just yet. As for Ramirez, his defense has been considered a liability for quite a while. Back in the offseason, the Rangers were reportedly poised to send Ramirez to Boston for Mike Lowell and the sense was that Boston would shift him out from behind the dish.
For San Francisco's part, the trade frees up the catcher's spot for Buster Posey to move there full-time. It will allow the Giants to upgrade their offense by either moving Aubrey Huff back to first base and giving Nate Schierholtz and Aaron Rowand more playing time, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News notes . Another alignment would be moving Pablo Sandoval to first and moving Juan Uribe to third base. That would free up regular playing time for Edgar Renteria.
Chris Ray was dealt for Kevin Millwood in the offseason and has pieced together a 3.41 ERA over 31 2/3 innings. He would likely pitch out of the Giants' bullpen, although he may have an option left, according to Baggarly. That would allow San Francisco to ship him to Triple-A in the event of a roster crunch.
Molina is on a one year, $4.5 million deal with about $2.3 million left to be paid. If the Rangers are assuming much of Molina's contract, Selig may be examining the move closely thanks to Texas' financial straits. The sale from owner Tom Hicks is constantly being held up and MLB is responsible for the team's finances until the sale goes through.
-- Evan Brunell
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