Why The Rangers Must Now Sign Brian McCann

Ok, that title is a little strong. They do not have to sign Brian McCann.

But it would make a ton of sense.

When a mega-deal goes down, the shock can lead to ill-formed, knee-jerk opinions. Just read my timeline from 10 minutes before the news dropped. Or my last article that suggested maybe there were too many moving parts now to sign Brian McCann. I’ve gone 180 degrees on both counts.
It isn’t that I have a problem with Geovany Soto. I do not. I think you could do much worse behind the plate than Geovany Soto. It has a lot more to do with Prince Fielder, and a little bit to do with a kid named Alfaro.

Jorge Alfaro, the Rangers 20 year old Columbian catching prospect, is perhaps the most important prospect in the Rangers system right now. A high-ceiling kid who already turning heads in the Arizona Fall League with impressive pop times and an improving plate approach, pushing to make himself the answer at the hole in Rangers’ roster behind the plate sometime as soon as 2016.

You may have heard recently how the Rangers finally plugged their void at first base. The largest contract in Arlington now belongs to the largest first baseman in Texas. But is that what we are excited about? Calling Prince Fielder a first baseman kind of feels like calling a receptionist an office manager. You don’t pay an office manager to manage your office; they mostly answer phones, and you don’t pay Prince Fielder to play first base as much as you pay him mostly to hit baseballs really, really hard.

And that’s sort of a problem, too.

Prince Fielder has made it clear that he wants to play in the field, despite being really bad at it. He actually currently holds the title of being the worst defensive first baseman of all time by the metric of “fielding runs.” Surely, Prince is aware of an inevitable transition to DH, but when?

Enter Brian McCann.

The rationale behind paying Brian McCann for the number of years he’ll demand (probably 5) has been that you can also get him at bats at first base and DH.
Don’t bother signing a DH. Sign Brian McCann, allow Geovany Soto to catch 65+ games, allow Brian McCann to play first base in a majority of those games (with some of them being off days, others being days he can DH), and shift Prince Fielder to DH on the days that McCann plays first base. We’ll call it “keeping everybody fresh” rather than “transitioning Prince Fielder to full-time DH a la David Ortiz.”

When Jorge Alfaro, referred to on twitter as simply #TheLegend, is done working with another legend, Pudge Rodriguez, and is ready for the catching job at the big league level (presumably in 2016), this creates a clear timetable for Prince Fielder to have been completely transitioned to becoming a full-time DH (a role that he should likely already occupy). Taking away games that Fielder would otherwise be in the field is not only a bonus in the meantime, but it begins that process.

Bridge the gap to Alfaro. Make Prince Fielder a DH, both limiting the liability he creates in the field as well as protecting your $138 million investment. Add another big bat to your lineup, and limit the number of games Soto is forced to face right-handed pitching.

Robert Pike is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Robert.Pike@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @Bob_Pike.
Robert Pike

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