The Orioles have (finally!*) found someone to sit on the bunch as Matt Wieters starts 130-140 games**, picking up 27 year-old catcher Taylor Teagarden from the Texas Rangers in return for minor-league pitcher Randy Henry and a player to be named later.
* It’s not like back-up catcher is really a big deal, but people seem to have been harping on the O’s lack of one for a while now.
** Maybe having a better back-up will allow Wieters to get a little more rest.
Teagarden has gotten some playing time in parts of four major league season, but has just 392 career plate appearances to his name. The .220/.286/.417 line is not impressive (especially with a .314 BABIP), but my understanding is that he’s supposed to be a good defensive catcher (+3 DRS career, not that that means much in so few games) and so that kind of line can get you some above replacement level performance. Offensively, Teagarden’s main issue is that he whiffs a ton (36% strike-out rate in the majors, 29% at Triple-A, 34% at Double-A), but at least he brings a relatively strong walk rate (~11% in the high minors, 7.4% in the majors) and some pop (16 homers in 118 major league games) to the table.
Randy Henry was the O’s 4th round pick in the 2009 draft. He has a 3.33 career minor league ERA, with an 8.3 K/9 and a 1.7 BB/9. Those are certainly good numbers, but Henry is a reliever who has topped out at High-A Ball thus far (and in 2011 his strike-out rate was down to ~6.8 K/9 after a stronger 2010). Frankly, probably not much of a loss for the system (he’s supposed to have a good fastball and whatnot, but a low-minors reliever turning into a mediocre major league reliever is sort of a “success story”, and that’s more or less equivalent to back-up catcher).
Assuming the player to be named later is worse than Henry, the trade seams a decent one. The O’s will have four years of control of Teagarden, who maybe can put up about half a win a season as a back-up on the cheap in what should be his prime years (that would be around $5 M in excess value to the O’s – worth like two grade C pitching prospects). That he needs to be added the a 40-man roster that’s currently full is a minor issue (it doesn’t help that Dylan Bundy is on there already – or that Matt Antonelli got a major league deal, actually), though if the PTBNL is, say, Willie Eyre**, then that problem is solved. Fine job Dan Duquette!*
** Sounds like it’s actually Pedro Viola (career 7.50 ERA in 12 IP) getting designated for assignment to make room.