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Showalter: Barajas the starter for 2006

Buck Showalter has announced that Rod Barajas will be the Rangers' starting catcher next year.

That's disappointing to me -- I'd rather see the team go with Gerald Laird -- but not surprising. Barajas is one of Showalter's guys, and Laird isn't.

What is interesting to me, though, is the timing of this. I think the Rangers are going to try to shop Laird this offseason, and announcing beforehand that Laird isn't going to be the starter next season is only going to depress his trade value.

So why would Showalter come out with this now?

My guess -- this is part of a power play on Showalter's part. Barajas has said he wants a multi-year deal, and my guess is that Showalter wants Barajas to have a multi-year deal, to know that Barajas is going to be around for the foreseeable future.

However, there has been talk that Barajas will likely end up with more in arbitration than the Rangers will want to pay -- probably around $3 million. Given that he's a 30 year old catcher with one good season under his belt, and given that the Rangers have a much cheaper alternative in Laird who is arguably just as good, if not better, there's been talk that Barajas could be non-tendered.

Buck clearly doesn't want that. So how to prevent it? Well, in part, by publicly proclaiming Barajas the starter, which would put either John Hart -- or, more likely, his successor -- in an awkward position if he wants to non-tender Barajas this offseason.