Late Tuesday night, San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin reported that the San Diego Padres were tinkering with the idea of dealing catcher Nick Hundley. The 30-year-old veteran has been with San Diego his whole career and experienced ups and downs. His last two seasons have been especially rough, encountering injuries and offensive struggles. Hundley has been playing well to commence the 2014 season and in 22 plate appearances, has slashed an imposing .318/.318/.591 clip. However, the Padres are committed to young catcher Yasmani Grandal, signaling the end is near for Hundley’s era with the Friars.
Although the Padres have no use for the career .238 hitter anymore, there are plenty of teams who could. One in particular, the Texas Rangers, are in desperate need of a starting catcher.
Many presumed Texas would land one of the many talented catchers on the free-agent market this past winter. This was not the case and they showed financial restraint re-signing Geovany Soto to a frugal one-year deal. Soto played very solid baseball backing A.J. Pierzynski up in 2013, so the deal was sensible. What they couldn’t forecast was he would sustain a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee during camp. The gruesome injury will sideline the right-handed hitter for 10-12 weeks while he resides on the 60-Day DL.
With Soto out for the foreseeable future, J.P. Arencibia took over the starting catching duties. The former Blue Jays’ backstop has not been able to produce whatsoever to begin the year and in 32 plate appearances, has churned an abysmal .067/.125/.100 slash line. The tentative rejuvenation project appears an early failure. So Ron Washington has gone to “Plan C” and journeyman Robinson Chirinos is their guy behind the dish. While Chirinos has played infinitely better than Arencibia, he is not producing at a league-average rate with a mediocre .200/.273/.375 line in 45 plate appearances.
Hundley is only set to make $4 million in 2014, with a $5 million club option in 2015. Even though his best days may be behind him, it is hard to imagine that he wouldn’t serve as an upgrade over Arenciba and Chirinos. The asking price is not very high, I imagine, and Texas should be desperate exploring all avenues to ameliorate this instability. Nick Hundley in a Rangers’ uniform makes a lot of sense for both parties, as he would be moving to a much friendlier hitter’s park and Texas gets an experienced backstop for a relatively cheap price.