Texas trades for San Fran catcher Molina
Rangers deal reliever Ray, prospect Main for veteran
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers made the first big move of the 2010 trading period on Thursday by acquiring Giants catcher Bengie Molina and cash for reliever Chris Ray and Class A pitcher Michael Main.
The move adds much-needed depth to the Rangers' catching situation, as veteran Matt Treanor and Max Ramirez have combined to hit just .212 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs this season."He brings a veteran presence. He's a guy that's been back there and caught quality pitching in some big games," general manager Jon Daniels said. "First things first, this guy is a winner. He takes a lot of pride in his game calling and working with the staff and understanding the game plan. "Talking to him on the phone earlier, I think he's excited to be here. He really wants the chance to win again. It was refreshing to hear that." Added Rangers manager Ron Washington: "He's brings presence. He's certainly been in a lot of big situations in his career behind that plate, especially during that run Anaheim had here and he had a good run in San Francisco where he helped them fight for the pennant. We're just very happy to have him." Molina's experience factor was the biggest reason for the move according to Daniels. He's spent 13 seasons in the Majors, while Treanor and Ramirez have spent a combined nine seasons in the big leagues. "I think for us to make a change, we felt that it would have to have been a significant upgrade while getting a guy with experience," Daniels said. "Especially with a younger pitching staff, maybe a lesser experienced pitching staff, I think there's a benefit to having an experienced catcher back there. That's not something our own guys bring at this point." That's reinforced by two of the Giants' top pitchers in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. "A lot of players have come and gone [and none] have had the effect, at least on me, that Bengie has," Lincecum said. "He helped me mature and succeed. I've said time and time again, he deserves half of those awards that I've gotten." Added Cain: "The things he's done for me -- from calling a game, to giving me confidence to throw different pitches in different counts -- really, really, really benefited me." Daniels also feels like the Rangers will get positive production out of Molina's bat, despite his struggles so far this season. In 61 games with the Giants this season, Molina is hitting .257 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. "I know he hasn't gotten off to a great start, but we feel like he can help us," Daniels said. Molina will be in familiar territory when he joins the Rangers, as he spent eight seasons with the Angels from 1998-2005. During his time with the Halos, Molina hit 65 home runs while adding 362 RBIs. "I feel a special bond with Bengie, being a catcher and see this guy -- I don't know if too many people had confidence he was going to be the terrific player he has become," Angels manager Mike Scoscia said. "He always felt, even as a young guy, he could play at the level he has the last 10 years in baseball. He's a winner. Everything a catcher has to bring behind the plate, he has a passion for. He's one of the best clutch hitters I've ever seen." In 36 games played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Molina has a career average of .263 with two home runs and 20 RBIs. "We talked to a lot of people around the league while we were researching different options," Daniels said. "People he was been with ... all have the same things to say. He's a great guy in the clubhouse, he's really good at handling the staff, understands what pitchers are trying to do, understands the game plan and helps them execute it."
It's a move that has Rangers players excited as they continue to push for their first division title since 1999. Entering Thursday's game against the Angels, Texas led the American League West by 4 1/2 games over Los Angeles."We're just excited. It's just another piece to the puzzle," first baseman Justin Smoak said. "We've been doing well with what we've had, but you never know how much a veteran guy can help out this club. "Treanor is a veteran guy too and to pair them together is going to be good. He's just another piece and we need to keep playing well."
It's a move Treanor says he'll embrace."I think it's really good actually," he said. "I think any way we can improve our team, the earlier the better. I think it's going to improve our team and give us a better chance to make the postseason." In exchange for Molina, the Giants acquired Ray and Main, who've had successful seasons within the organization. Ray is 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 35 appearances with 16 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings in his first season with the Rangers. Main, the Rangers' first round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA and 72 strikeouts with Class A Advanced Bakersfield. He had just been promoted to Double-A Frisco this week. "You never want to give your players away. [Main] is a tremendous makeup guy with definite ability," Daniels said. "And we really like him. You don't want to have to include any prospect in deals, but sometimes it's the nature of the game. "We don't like to do it, but at some level, that's what prospects are there for. To come up and perform on a big league team, but sometimes help supplement the big league club." The Rangers aren't wasting any time in getting Molina to Arlington. After the team finishes its three-game series with the Angels on Thursday, Molina will meet the team upon its arrival and wait to see whether he'll be in the lineup Friday against the White Sox. Washington said he would "probably" be in the lineup. "We expect him to fly into Dallas [Thursday night] and meet the team there," Daniels said. "He'll meet us then because we don't get in until late. But he'll be in Arlington and at the Ballpark [on Friday] and we'll make a roster move at that point. As far as whether he'll be in the lineup, that's a question for Ron." But Washington didn't hold back in Molina's role with the club. It's likely that Ramirez will be sent down and Treanor will take his place with Molina being the primary backstop. Washington had been using Treanor for three straight games, then Ramirez for two. "He's going to be the expanded guy," Washington said. "Matt Treanor is going to get his time and we haven't figured out how we're going to do it, but he came here to catch. He didn't come here to play a backup role."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.