As the Rangers brace for the final few weeks of their stretch drive to the offseason, they made a significant roster move yesterday, signing veteran catcher Kevin Plawecki to a major league contract. The thirty-one-year-old was recently released by the Red Sox.
This moves gives them three catchers on the current active roster, joining Jonah Heim and Sam Huff. Their starting catcher, Mitch Garver, is on the I.L., recovering from surgery to his forearm.
Heim has taken over primary catching duties after Garver’s injury. He started out strong on offense but has fizzled after the All-Star Break, batting .180 with just three home runs after hitting .262 with twelve home runs in the first half. Heim was regarded as an elite catcher but is at or near the bottom in many defensive stats. Only one catcher has allowed more stolen bases. He is second to worst in runners caught stealing. It seems the more Heim plays, the more his weaknesses are exposed.
Sam Huff hasn’t exactly made anyone stand up and take notice either. He came up for ten games in 2020 and hit the ground running, hitting .335 with three home runs in just 31 at-bats, and putting up an elite 1.136 OPS. But this year, he hasn’t found the same success.
So, now the Rangers want to see what Kevin Plawecki can bring to the organization. He’s an eight-year veteran with the Mets and Red Sox who’s primarily served as the back-up catcher. This year, his third with Boston, he was hitting just .217 with one home run and just twelve RBIs. So, the Red Sox released him last week. According to reports, Plawecki was a real asset in the clubhouse, bringing a sense of camaraderie that his teammates loved. He invented the Home Run Cart, which is just what it sounds like. After a Red Sox player hits a home run, he’s greeted at the dugout with a celebratory ride in a laundry cart. His Boston teammates loved him. One headline called him beloved. There was a general sense of shock and disappointment when Plawecki was released.
The Rangers have been sorely lacking in leadership and wanting someone to step up and rally the troops. Plawecki might bring that badly needed aspect and be a guy whose value exceeds the stats on the back of his baseball card.
Leadership is a crucial component of any successful team, especially in sports where players are constantly facing adversity and challenging situations. A leader not only motivates their teammates but also sets an example by consistently performing at their best. It is often said that leadership is not about being the best player on the team but rather about being the player who inspires others to be their best. Here, this link explains the importance of leadership in sports and how it can make a significant difference in a team’s success. With Plawecki’s potential to bring much-needed leadership to the Rangers, it could be the missing piece to elevate the team to new heights.
Which begs a few questions. If he’s the backup catcher next year, what happens to Heim and Huff? Will the Rangers carry three catchers in 2023 so they can give Garver a break by DHing him more? Are Heim and Huff going to be packaged in deals? That wouldn’t be a surprise. Good young catchers are attractive trade targets and could be key parts in deals that bring back the elite pitching this team is desperate for. Plawecki gives them options.
So, as the final handful of games is upon the Rangers, they will see what they have in Plawecki. And what creative things he can do with their clubhouse laundry carts.