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UPDATE: Red Sox claim Max Ramirez off waivers from the Rangers.
It was not that long ago that many teams envied the Texas Rangers’ catching depth. The catching trio of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez gave the club a crown jewel in its rapidly improving farm system. With all three under team control, the Rangers could deal from a position of strength to fill a need or let their young backstops develop into a cheap supply of major league talent. Between the start of the 2010 season and now, however, things took a turn: Salty was traded to the Red Sox in July and Ramirez was designated for assignment to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for incoming pitchers Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes.
It was just over a year ago that trade talks between the Red Sox and Rangers, proposing a swap of Max Ramirez for Mike Lowell, broke down due to health issues surrounding the third baseman. For his part, Ramirez had taken a step back in 2009, hitting just .234/.323/.336/.659 at Triple-A, after a monster campaign in Double-A that saw the catcher put up an OPS north of 1000.
The 2010 edition of Baseball Prospectus noted that Ramirez had shown power in the Venezuelan winter league and that as a “below-average defensive catcher who has to mash to have value,” a strong 2010 was essential. Unfortunately, Ramirez did not return to his old self. In 226 plate appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City, he compiled a .286/.373/.381/.754 line and in a short sting in the majors, 85 plate appearances, he struggled to the tune of .217/.341/.348.
Given the loss of Victor Martinez and the still unproven Saltalamacchia splitting time with Jason Varitek, it is possible the Red Sox will make another attempt to bring Ramirez into the fold. Even if Ramirez is unlikely to develop into a major league catcher, should he rediscover some of his lost power, he could yet find his way into the starting lineup.