Texas Rangers trade Isiah Kiner-Falefa, prospect to Minnesota for catcher Mitch Garver
(AP photo/Terrence Williams)
SURPRISE, Ariz. — One day, you’re the starting third baseman for the Texas Rangers. The next day, you’re on your way to Minnesota.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa was traded Saturday morning to the Twins in a deal for power-hitting catcher Mitch Garver. The Rangers also agreed to send Double A right-hander Ronny Henriquez, a move that creates an opening on the 40-man roster.
Kiner-Falefa will be the Twins’ shortstop. The Rangers are in the market for a third baseman, likely on a short-term deal, but have landed a power-hitting catcher to get most of the time behind the plate.
“He’s one of those guys that really stands out when we’ve competed against him,” president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said. “So we’re looking forward to welcoming him and then seeing him grow here on the team and and help us grow as as we work towards building a championship club.”
Kiner-Falefa was expected to arrive at Rangers camp Sunday after he and manager Chris Woodward had a conversation Thursday shortly after the MLB lockout ended.
Woodward said Kiner-Falefa was his first phone call so that he could continue a conversation that was stalled three months because of the lockout.
Woodward wanted to make sure the air was clear with Kiner-Falefa after the Dec. 1 signings of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager that evicted Kiner-Falefa from shortstop and left him without a position.
That changed last month when prospect Josh Jung underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder that is expected to keep him out six months and eliminated him from the third-base picture.
It was Kiner-Falefa’s job … until Friday. Woodward would still take him.
“There’s all kinds of things floating around, and I sit in that room sometimes. I don’t know what’s going happen. I have no idea,” he said. “There was a lot of interest for Kiner. He’s a good player. And people know, especially the people that I know, how much I appreciate him and respect him as a person.”
Garver hit 31 homers in 2019 but only 15 the past two seasons as he dealt with injuries. He is under contractual control the next two seasons.
The Rangers have created a competition between Jose Trevino and Jonah Heim to be the backup catcher after they split time in 2021. Sam Huff, who is also on the 40-man roster, needs time in the minors to develop after not catching last season because of a knee injury.
The Rangers, though, have significantly upgraded at a tough position for offense.
“After we’ve heard nothing but good things about Mitch. We’ve done a lot of homework on him,” Woodward said. “He’s an offensive juggernaut from the catching position, which is pretty rare in today’s game.”
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com