In the first major trade of the 2010 baseball season, the San Francisco Giants sent veteran catcher Bengie Molina and $2 million in cash to the Texas Rangers for twenty-eight year old right handed pitcher Chris Ray
Buster Posey now becomes the Giants starting catcher, and inherits one of the best starting pitching staffs in the Majors, featuring two Cy Young Award winners (Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito), and one of the youngest players in the Majors, twenty-year old fifth starter Madison Bumgarner.
The Giants #1 pick in the first round of the 2008 first year player draft, Posey stampeded through the minor leagues, excelling both at the plate and behind the plate. The 23 year old Florida State product is expected to add extra base hit punch to the Giant’s anemic offense.
Molina, 36, was signed as a free agent this season for $4.5 million and had previously played for San Francisco from 2007-2009 as their starting catcher and clean-up hitter. But Molina’s production fell off dramatically in 2010, with 17 RBIs in 61 games, and a .257AVG/.312OBP/.332OPS final line as a Giant. Not only was Molina’s offensive production down, he was visibly out of shape and his defensive skills had diminished.
Chris Ray is 2-0 with 1 save, and has played in 35 games for the Rangers in 2010. Ray has a 3.41 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 31.2 innings, and 1.26 WHIP; he also walked 16 batters. Ray was originally traded from the Balitmore Orioles to Texas for starter Kevin Millwood in December 2009. San Francisco is expected to give Ray a shot in their bullpen, where his power arm will add even more punch to a potent pen.
As part of the deal, the Rangers will also send right handed pitcher Michael Main to the Giants. The Rangers selected the 21 year old Main as the 24th pick overall in the 2007 first year players draft. Hot-Prospects.net rates Main with a 90-94 MPH fastball, a power curve and still-developing change-up. Texas has a minor league system bursting with young pitching prospects, and Main is rated in the middle of that talent pool.
The Rangers had been looking to upgrade at catcher for several months, and the Sporting News reported Texas approached the White Sox last month about a deal for Sox catcher A. J. Pierzynski. Ranger catchers are batting .212 this season, the lowest average in the Majors.
This deal could work out to be a significant success for the Giants, who moved out an unproductive, aging Molina thus clearing a path for Buster Posey, picked up a promising bullpen arm in Chris Ray, and received a legitimate minor league pitching prospect in Michael Main. The $2 million Texas received to supplement Molina’s salary is spare change compared to the potential value San Francisco received in this deal.
The Giants, who already had the ability to take on additional payroll, can now make a serious push to find a legitimate power bat for the middle of their line-up.