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Orioles talk with Rangers about Teagarden; Mathis could fit backup plan

One of the main priorities you can expect the Orioles to soon address – whether it is this week, during the winter meetings or shortly thereafter – is getting a backup catcher.

The Orioles are looking for someone who is solid defensively and understands his limited role behind starter Matt Wieters -- and right now they have no one since they lost reserve Craig Tatum to the Houston Astros on waivers earlier this offseason.

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Therefore, when Dan Duquette was hired as executive vice president, he inherited a team with only one catcher on its 40-man roster and no big-league-ready veterans in the farm system.

That should be taken care of soon.

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According to an industry source, the club is having ongoing talks with the Texas Rangers about 27-year-old backstop Taylor Teagarden, a former third-round pick who has batted.220 in 350 major-league at-bats spread over four seasons with the Rangers.

Teagarden was drafted by Texas in 2005 while Orioles manager Buck Showalter managed the Rangers, and he is quite familiar with the defensive-minded backstop who played in just 14 games in the big leagues last year.

Teagarden would probably cost the Orioles a low-level minor leaguer or two. Apparently the teams don't have a match yet, although names have been tossed out.

Teagarden, once a Rangers' top prospect, is known as a good defensive catcher with strong makeup and a good arm, but scouts question whether he'll ever hit in the majors. He is a career .262 hitter with a .376 on-base percentage in six minor league seasons.

Another potential fit could be Los Angeles Angels' catcher Jeff Mathis, a 28-year-old former first round pick who has hit just .194 in 1,201 big-league at-bats in parts of seven seasons. With the Angels' acquiring Chris Iannetta from Colorado on Wednesday it appears that Mathis could be the odd man out in Anaheim. Mathis could be non-tendered a contract or traded away.

The Orioles likely would have some interest in Mathis, also considered a good defensive catcher, if he were available at the right price. Especially if they can't get a deal done to acquire Teagarden or another reserve.

Mathis is probably pretty far down on the list, but the list is getting thinner. The club is also still looking at six-year free agents who can catch, but those likely wouldn't be signed until after the Rule 5 draft.


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