Ivan Rodriguez

Giants could target Ivan Rodriguez after losing Buster Posey

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While he’s exceeded expectations as the backup for Bengie Molina and later Buster Posey these last three years, Eli Whiteside is no one’s idea of a full-time catcher.  That means the Giants are likely going to have to look elsewhere after losing Posey for the season.  They may first turn their eyes to D.C.

Getting phased out by youngster Wilson Ramos, the Nationals’ Ivan Rodriguez is believed to be very much available in trade talks.  He’s not much of an offensive contributor these days — he’s batting just .205/.256/.342 with two homers in 73 at-bats this year — but even at age 39, he still has a gun behind the plate and the stamina to play pretty regularly.  If the Giants don’t at least touch base with the Nationals before the end of the week, it will be a shock.

Some other possibilities:

Ryan Doumit (Pirates) – Doumit is no Posey, but he’d do a better job of filling the offensive void than Pudge would.  He’s hit .272/.337/.446 with four homers in 92 at-bats while splitting time with Chris Snyder for the Pirates this season.  Unfortunately, he’s a weak defender with durability issues.

Bengie Molina (free agent) – Molina didn’t seem to have a whole left last year.  He posted a .644 OPS in 202 at-bats with the Giants and then a .599 OPS in 175 at-bats following the move to the Rangers.  He’s also awfully immobile behind the plate.  On the other hand, he has one big plus over the alternatives: he knows most of the team’s pitchers.  If he’s willing to take a minor league contract and play himself into shape, the Giants might as well give him a look.

Kelly Shoppach (Rays) – A big offensive disappointment since being acquired prior to 2010, Shoppach is hitting just .167/.247/.250 in 72 at-bats this year.  The Rays are far from sellers, but they might jump at the chance to move Shoppach’s salary, figuring that Jose Lobaton could give them more production as John Jaso’s platoon partner.

George Kottaras (Brewers) – Milwaukee’s backup last season, Kottaras is currently in Triple-A and hitting .271/.358/.373 in 59 at-bats.  He’s made a lot of progress defensively, though he’s still below average at best.  Offensively, he’s a better bet than everyone here except Doumit.

Bobby Wilson (Angels) – The Angels don’t need Wilson, but they’ve kept him around because he’s out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing.  A solid defender with a decent stick, he’s not quite good enough to be a regular, but there are certainly worse stopgap options.

Landon Powell (Athletics) – With nine homers and 43 RBI in 293 major league at-bats, Powell has the ability to contribute as a bottom-of-the-order hitter.  However, he also has an extensive injury history and it seems unlikely he’d hold up if asked to play much more than once or twice per week.

Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) – It seems doubtful that the Giants will go young, but then, Teagarden isn’t really very young anymore at 27.  He’s always drawn pretty good marks for defense, and the Rangers won’t ask for the same kind of return they would have a couple of years ago.  Teagarden is durable enough to catch five times per week, and he has lots of power.  He might be lucky to hit .220, but he could be a decent regular anyway.

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.