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Rangers Have Other Options to Sign Besides Just McCann

Two years later, many Mavericks fans are still pining over the loss of Tyson Chandler.

Samuel Dalembert’s 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds through four games, while at least solid for the Mavs’ system, still probably isn’t quelling those gripes. Not until a Dalembert-led Mavs team is hoisting the same trophy that Chandler’s team did.

So what does this have to do with the Rangers and their off-season plans?

If there is one position in baseball that might be as important as a center in basketball, it just might be catcher. Some would argue about an ace pitcher, but given that you can only throw those out there every five days, few can impact a game more than a backstop that can handle a pitching staff, shut down or at least limit an opponent’s running game and possibly contribute with the bat.

The Rangers are still suffering from a revolving door at catcher ever since they let go of Pudge Rodriguez back in 2002. (That revolving door even involved bringing Pudge back for two months in 2009.) It’s actually impressive that they won consecutive pennants with two different catchers.

Which is why letting go of Mike Napoli was definitely one of Jon Daniels’ bigger mistakes. Seeing Nap celebrate in a Red Sox uniform this year (albeit playing at first base much of the time) didn’t help matters at all.

But hey, it’s all going to work out right? I mean, this is the year when the Rangers are finally going to open the purse strings and shell out all the money in the world to lure Brian McCann away from Atlanta, and then everything will be fine, right.

Hold the phone there.

McCann may be the most coveted free agent by Rangerville since, well, since they thought giving half a billion dollars to Alex Rodriguez was a good idea.

How well did that work out again?

It’s the same old lesson that virtually no one learns every year – signing big free agents to gluttonous contracts is NOT the path to success. After all, just how much of a threat have the Angels been the last two years in the games that count after winning the supposed January war each year? Arte Moreno is running his club into the ground with his reckless ways, and don’t think he’s learned anything. Odds are the Halos will overpay again for either McCann or Robinson Cano (another guy some think the Rangers actually have a shot at).

The Rangers’ best solution, instead, may instead be to inflict turnabout on the Red Sox by poaching their catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, since being dumped by the Rangers in 2010, proved himself to be a serviceable backstop by playing more than 100 games with Boston each of the last three years. There is also the Phillies’ Carlos Ruiz out there, with an All-Star appearance as recently as 2012.

That isn’t to say there might not be some concerns about both. It could be a red flag that Salty had career highs in at-bats, batting average, hits and RBI in his free agent year. And Ruiz, who the Rockies are reportedly pursuing heavily, has rumors of a negative attitude.

But here’s one thing to keep in mind about both those players – nether was tendered a qualifying offer by their teams, meaning the Rangers won’t forfeit draft picks if they sight either one.

Don’t think that’s not important to JD and this organization. The ability to keep stocking that farm system remains every bit as important as the short term, and they don’t want to give up those draft picks easily. Think letting those picks go is no big deal? The number one reason the Angels’ system is so bare is because of all the draft picks they forfeited to give those ginormous albatross contracts to the likes of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

Nothing they get this off-season will solve their problem beyond the short run. Above all else, if the Rangers want to stop this revolving door long-term, they need a catcher to come from within, like they had with Pudge.

So, as Norm Hitzges suggested yesterday, they really need just a 2-3 year window before Jorge Alfaro will hopefully be ready for a big league debut. After seeing catcher be one position the Ranger shave failed to develop for years, it would be a welcome sight.

Last off-season, people were definitely miffed that the Rangers settled for C-list talent in the free agent-trade market, and now more than ever they will be demanding A-list. But the truth is, being smart and grabbing B-list.

People keep telling me to trust in JD’s plan, even now that the “baseball guy” Nolan Ryan is no longer present. Well, then, you have to know that plan hasn’t involved always grabbing the best free agents and overspending. So nobody get their hopes up and decide it’s McCann or bust this off-season.

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