Rangers like in-house catching options

Gimenez, McKenry, Wilson, Nicholas competing for playing time behind Chirinos

Rangers like in-house catching options

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers know that Robinson Chirinos is going be their Opening Day catcher, and their discussions with other clubs have found the asking price for Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers and Derek Norris of the Padres too high right now.

The Rangers could unload an attractive prospect-laden package for Lucroy as the Brewers have been actively scouting the Rangers farm system. But they are not eager to do that, especially because there is a real possibility the prospects could be needed later this summer for starting pitching.

General manager Jon Daniels acknowledged he has talked "a little bit" with other clubs but nothing has really changed. The Rangers' mission with two weeks left in Spring Training is to identify the backup catcher.

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"At this point I anticipate both our catchers are in camp," Daniels said. "We are open if there is a true improvement to the team, but we're not going to change for change's sake."

The Rangers have three veteran catchers in camp competing for the backup spot: Chris Gimenez, Bobby Wilson and Michael McKenry. Gimenez has the intangibles and works well with pitchers, McKenry gives the Rangers more firepower offensively, and Wilson is excellent defensively.

The wild card is Brett Nicholas, who has made a serious impression in camp.

Nicholas throws out Marte

The Rangers selected Nicholas as a catcher out of the University of Missouri in the sixth round of the 2010 Draft. He was moved to first base because of his offensive potential, but over the past two years has split time between there and catcher.

"I've always considered myself a catcher first and somebody who can play other positions," Nicholas said.

Nicholas, with the help of former Rangers catcher Geno Petralli, has made significant improvements defensively. He is also a left-handed hitter with power, a coveted commodity for a catcher.

"Nick has improved," Daniels said. "I give him a lot of credit. He has put his head down and gotten better year in and year out. He has earned the opportunity and made the most of it. We view him as a big league-capable catcher. There may have been a time where I wouldn't have said that, but he has made himself an option."

The backup catcher will play a crucial role for the Rangers. Chirinos is the starter, but the Rangers target him for 90-100 games.

"I think he is a better performer when given the appropriate number of days off," manager Jeff Banister said.

Gimenez and Wilson came up big for the Rangers down the stretch last year after Chirinos and Carlos Corporan went down with injuries. The Rangers were 25-7 with Gimenez starting behind the plate, and he joined Chirinos on the postseason roster.

Gimenez is currently on the 40-man roster with no options left. He would have to clear waivers before being sent to the Minors but could elect free agency. McKenry and Wilson are in camp on Minor League contracts but can also take free agency if not added to the Opening Day roster by a certain point.

"I think the last couple of weeks we're going to try and narrow it down and make decisions," Daniels said. "The first couple of weeks, guys were getting ready, getting their timing down and working on things. The last couple of weeks, we're going to start putting the ballclub together and see how the pieces fit."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.