According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the Rangers have signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25 million contract, which almost surely means Bengie Molina won’t be back in Texas.
Torrealba is five years younger than Molina and represents an upgrade offensively. Over the past two seasons Torrealba has hit .279 with a .725 OPS, compared to Molina hitting .258 with a .682, and the difference between them is especially huge when it comes to getting on base. Torrealba posted a .346 on-base percentage during that time, compared to a ghastly .290 OBP from Molina.
And while Molina has the superior defensive reputation, Torrealba threw out a higher percentage of steal attempts this season and they’re both right around 30 percent for their careers. Torrealba is also merely really slow, rather than the slowest player in the history of baseball, so the Rangers upgrade their team speed too.
Molina was acquired from the Giants at midseason because the Rangers were desperate for help behind the plate after none of their young catchers of the future panned out. He was a fine stop-gap pickup thanks to some postseason heroics, but signing Torrealba to a reasonable two-year deal is a smart move for the defending AL champs.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: