Hot off the heels of my Much Ado About Molina post, the Giants have traded Bengie Molina to the Rangers for RHP Chris Ray and a PTBNL.
Slim details from SFGiants.com:
The Rangers acquired Giants catcher Bengie Molina on Wednesday in a trade that sends reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later to San Francisco, a baseball source told MLB.com.
According to Andrew Baggarly, Molina has been informed of the deal and is in the process of saying goodbye to his teammates in Denver. Bengie Molina ends his career with the Giants with a slash-line of: .276/.303/.427 (OPS+ 88). I can only sum up Molina’s tenure with the Giants with the phrase ‘mixed feelings’. For the most part, he was a good Giant, but it was clearly a mistake to bring him back on his current 1-year, $4.5M deal. As I noted in the post below, Molina never really hit this year for the Giants and his defense looked noticeably worse from year’s past. I wasn’t a fan of the Molina to Giants deal when it originally broke, but Molina largely stayed healthy as a Giant — proving wrong my major concern — and had a couple of solid years. His 2008 in particular was a very good year — by FanGraphs’ WAR it was worth +3.4 wins. Still, problems with Molina seemed to be reaching a breaking point. His attitude at times bordered on overly sensitive and defensive, and it was clear that he’s just not the mentor-type when it comes to young Buster Posey.
Molina’s exit stage left opens the door wide for Buster Posey. Eli Whiteside still might get the occasional start, but hopefully, Posey will see the majority of his playing time behind the plate now. For the Giants, this represented the clearest path to an upgrade on the roster. You remove Molina and replace him with Posey. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Posey will hit this year, but he’s done everything he can in the minors — career minor slash of: .333/.427/.542 — to prove that he’s ready. Even if you factor in an adjustment period with Posey, he should still out-hit Molina’s current batting line. Not to mention the fact that the Giants are replacing one of the worst baserunners in the game in Molina with an average (if not slightly better) baserunner in Posey. There are some hidden benefits in this swap just outside of hitting and defense. You could figure that the difference, at worst, between Posey and Molina on the base-paths is +5 runs — that’s a half-win and not insignificant.
Enough about Molina v. Posey, what did the Giants get in return? Chris Ray is a 28-year-old right-handed relief pitcher. You might remember Ray from his earlier years in Baltimore as the Orioles’ closer. In 2006 with the O’s he saved 33 games while posting a 2.73 ERA (4.84 FIP). Ray underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and didn’t appear back in the major leagues until 2009. He was traded to Texas in December 2009 for Kevin Millwood.
A few numbers on Ray from 2009-10 by PFX:
How do these numbers compare? You can find some benchmarks, here.
Like most relievers, Ray works off of 2 pitches in his fastball and slider. He throws the fastball 60% of the time at an average of 93.9 mph. It gets a league average whiff rate while his slider gets a slightly below league average whiff rate. Looking at Ray’s numbers, he’s not that much different that Denny Bautista or Santiago Casilla. He’s a ‘live arm’ with some slight upside. But, outside of his fastball, his career FIP of 4.70 indicates that he’s not someone you would want to lean on in the bullpen in high leverage situations.
Basically, what the Giants have done is traded Molina for a ‘live arm’ and the chance to start Posey. I have no clue who the PTNBL could be, so we’ll tackle that later. Ray should slightly benefit from the move to the NL and for the Giants, the biggest benefit of this deal is that it opens the catcher position, fully and completely, to Buster Posey. I can’t say I saw this move coming, but it was time. The Giants made themselves a bit better tonight.