O's acquire catcher Teagarden from Rangers
Baltimore sends reliever Henry, player to be named to Texas
BALTIMORE -- New Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette considers the catcher to be the on-field manager, so it was only fitting to let current manager Buck Showalter have a heavy say in who will be out there when it's not All-Star Matt Wieters.
Showalter and the O's got their guy Thursday, trading a pair of Minor Leaguers to the Texas Rangers in exchange for backstop Taylor Teagarden. Teagarden, who will turn 28 at the end of the month, is a defensive-minded catcher who the Orioles felt presented a better option than anything on the quickly diminishing free-agent market. Teagarden is out of Minor League options and is expected to make the team's 25-man roster out of Spring Training.
"I couldn't be more grateful," Teagarden said. "That's all I really wanted at this point in my career. I was kind of in limbo with the Rangers the last two seasons. I just want that opportunity to get back up there and get the chance to perform.
"It's been tough for me the last two seasons, because I was healthy and, in my mind, playing well. But now that I've been given this opportunity, I just want to capitalize on it. It's just a great feeling. I'm ready to work hard and get after it."
A top prospect in Texas when Showalter was managing there, Teagarden spent parts of the past four seasons with the Rangers and has struggled to consistently hit at the Major League level. With Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba both ahead of him on the depth chart, Teagarden proved to be dispensable, and the Orioles came calling early this winter to express their interest.
In return, Baltimore sent Texas Class A right-handed reliever Randy Henry, who went 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 2011, and a player to be named after the Rule 5 Draft next Thursday.
Teagarden adds immediate depth to the O's 40-man roster, on which Wieters is the only catcher, and Teagarden's familiarity with Showalter -- as well as the large number of Rangers transplants on the O's roster -- should make for a smooth transition. A career .262 hitter in the Minors, Teagarden has a solid arm and great makeup, and he will take the place of Craig Tatum, whom the Orioles lost on waivers to the Astros earlier this offseason.
"Taylor's ability to lead the pitching staff and control the running game is a very dependable skill and will help stabilize our ballclub," Duquette said. "I'm glad to have Taylor join the organization, and the fact that Buck knows and likes him, I think, is a big plus for everybody."
Teagarden's arrival will help spell the 25-year-old Wieters, whom Showalter would like to give more rest in 2011. Wieters was selected to his first All-Star Game last season, playing in 139 games.
Duquette has already stressed he will be active in the trade market this winter and said Thursday that the club is still committed to adding catching depth beyond Teagarden at both the Major and Minor League level. Wieters is one of only a few Orioles viewed as untouchable in terms of a trade.
Teagarden, who was added to the 40-man roster in place of left-handed pitcher Pedro Viola (who was designated for assignment), said he has no problem with the backup role.
"The last few years in the big leagues, I've kind of been playing that role as it is," Teagarden said. "I'm used to playing a couple times a week, depending on the injury situation. It's not a situation I'm upset about by any means. Whatever is asked of me, I'll just take it on 100 percent. I understand how to stay in shape and stay as fresh as I can."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.