It appears as if the Tigers have filled their hole behind the plate by acquiring catcher Gerald Laird from the Texas Rangers. In return the Tigers will ship out starting pitching prospect Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. The move is expected to be formally announced later today.
Laird will be 29 next year and has played in parts of 6 big league season. He’s only had one really productive year offensively when he hit 296/332/473 in 78 games. In his only season in which he broke the 100 game mark he struggled posting only a 224/278/349 line in 2007. Marcel and Bill James projections have him at a .310-.315 wOBA in 2009 and in 2008 MLB catchers posted a .311 wOBA line so he stands to be average for the position offensively.
Defensively he’s well regarded posting caught stealing rates in excess of 35% in ’06 and ’07 while catching 28% last year. Tango’s fan survey rated him as an above average defender at 66.
The downside to Laird is that he’s a right handed hitter so there isn’t an opportunity to platoon with Dusty Ryan. Instead it would just be a timeshare.
Laird is entering his second year or arbitration and he made $1.6 million last year meaning he’ll probably earn a little over $2 million this year.
Guillermo Moscoso became better known just recently when he made Baseball America’s top 10 list (at number 10) and when he was added to the 40 man roster. Moscoso may best be known for his perfect game at Oneonta in 2007, but should probably be better known for the 122:21 K:BB ratio he amassed in 76.2 innings between A and AA. At 24 he was old for A ball, but only a little old for AA ball. Contributing at the big league level at the age of 25 would still keep him legitimately in prospect range.
Moscoso hasn’t pitched a full pro season due to injuries. When healthy he has a low 90’s fastball and a change and curveball. Moscoso does have flyball tendencies though which usually isn’t a good recipe for Arlington.
I haven’t been on board the Laird train this winter, but I can certainly get behind this trade. Laird is average offensively for the position and above average defensively and the Tigers picked him up for the #10 prospect in their system. Moscoso has value (the aforementioned strikeout to walk ratio) and was a decent bet to help on the Tigers big league roster at some point this season. But he also hasn’t topped 92 innings in a pro season and he will be 25.
The second player, Carlos Melo, may be terrific, but he is also 17 and hasn’t pitched in the states yet and is several years away from contributing at this point. His inclusion doesn’t swing this for me one way or the other.
Laird’s lack of a history of playing a full season is also concerning, but the Tigers have hope that Dusty Ryan could be their next catcher anyways. This is merely a way of taking some of that pressure of off Ryan.
In the end the Tigers fill one of their needs suitably with out outlaying a ton prospect wise or dollar wise before the winter meetings even kick off. It’s hard to be upset about that.