The Rangers and Twins made Major League Baseball’s first trade since the lockout ended Thursday on Saturday afternoon, with Texas sending infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez to the Twins in exchange for catcher Mitch Garver.
The Rangers were woefully under equipped at the catcher position last season with Jose Trevino, Jonah Heim, John Hicks, and Yohel Pozo combining for a .623 OPS at the position, but they add much more upside behind the plate with Garver. The 31-year-old was at his best in 2019, when he hit .273/.365/.630 with 31 homers in 93 games. Like many players, he struggled during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, posting a .511 OPS, but he bounced back in a major way in 2021, hitting .256/.358/.617 with 13 home runs in 68 games. Garver has never played in more than 103 games in a season and dealt with groin and back injuries last season, but he’s one of the best offensive catchers in baseball when healthy and is above-average behind the plate as well.
Since moving out from behind the plate, the 26-year-old Kiner-Falefa has shown himself to be an incredibly versatile and skilled infielder. He won a Gold Glove at third base after posting seven defensive runs in 46 games at the position during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He moved to shortstop for 2021 and accumulated 10 defensive runs saved there. He’ll presumably fill the Twins’ void at short which was left by the departure of Andrelton Simmons in free agency.
Henriquez, 21, is an undersized starter at 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, and the highest level he’s reached so far is Double-A. The right-hander has a career 3.85 ERA and pitched well at High-A Hickory in five starts last season, but he struggled a bit after a promotion to Double-A Frisco. In 16 games (11 starts), Henriquez had a 5.04 ERA with a .242 opponent batting average, 78 strikeouts, and 17 walks in 69.2 innings. He was added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster prior to the lockout.