Catalanotto could be odd man out
Veteran may have no role if Rangers opt to keep Jones in outfield
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If the Rangers keep Andruw Jones as their fifth outfielder and part-time designated hitter, that leaves no room for Frank Catalanotto.The Rangers will try to trade Catalanotto before the end of Spring Training. Otherwise, they will be confronted by the possibility of having to release him despite still owing $6 million on his contract.
"I don't know," Catalanotto said on Sunday morning. "From what I've been told, I'll be on the team. I'll be the fifth outfielder and take it from there. Until I'm told different, that's what I believe."Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the club's primary concern is finding the right configuration for the bench. "We haven't made the decision," Daniels said. Marlon Byrd is the Rangers' fourth outfielder behind David Murphy, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. He is not going anywhere to make room for anybody. "I don't want to trade Marlon," Daniels said. "He's an important part of this club. I wish we had more guys play the game the way he does." Catalanotto just does not have a role on the team. He is a left-handed hitter who can play left field, first base and designated hitter. The Rangers have left-handed hitters in all three spots in Murphy, Chris Davis and Hank Blalock. They really need a right-handed hitter for balance instead and that's why they want to keep Jones. Catalanotto's contract is the biggest impediment to a trade. He makes $4 million this season and has a $2 million buyout on a $5 million option for next season. Clubs just aren't interested in trading for that kind of salary for a part-time player in this current economic climate. "I think it would be tough to do at this point," Catalanotto said. "At some point, it might make sense and it might put me in a better situation. We'll see how it all shakes out." Asked if he wants to be traded, Catalanotto said, "If it puts me in a better situation, yes. But you've got to be careful what you wish for. You ask for a trade and the next thing you know is you are on a last-place team going nowhere and not having any fun. If you look at the guys on this team, I want to be here. But if I'm put in a better situation, it might be better if I'm traded." The best situation might be the National League, where there is no designated hitter and teams need good pinch-hitters off the bench. Catalanotto has a career .289 average as a pinch-hitter, the second highest among active players with at least 150 pinch-hit at-bats. Catalanotto re-joined the Rangers as a free agent on Nov. 16, 2006, and hit .266 with 80 runs scored, 43 doubles, 13 home runs and 65 RBI over 579 at-bats over the past two seasons.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.