Free agency opened only Oct. 30, when Koji Uehara struck out former TCU star Matt Carpenter for the final out of the World Series.Players have been free to negotiate with all teams only since Tuesday, when their 2013 team’s exclusive five-day window closed.In other words, the off-season is still in its infancy. It’s far too early for a player to eliminate a potential suitor even if, say, a potential suitor re-signed another player at the same position and went so far as to give that player a significant role.Such is the case with Brian McCann, not only the top free agent catcher available but also one of the top power hitters, after the Texas Rangers re-signed Geovany Soto on Tuesday and announced that he would be the primary man behind the plate.The McCann camp, though, hasn’t crossed the Rangers off his list of landing spots.“I don’t think we’re willing to concede any organization or any team because it’s so early,” said B.B. Abbott, McCann’s agent at Florida-based Jet Sports Management. “The Soto signing certainly doesn’t affect Brian’s thinking at this point. If the Rangers were to come calling, I don’t think it would be a factor.”General manager Jon Daniels said he is looking for either a traditional backup as the Rangers’ second catcher or a player who can play another position and has a potent bat that manager Ron Washington would want to keep in the lineup every day.There are several backups whom the Rangers could pursue, but McCann is the only one with a big enough bat to help the Rangers overcome the power void they experienced last season.McCann, though, has never played any position other than catcher, aside from designated hitter. As he starts the free agency process, his mind is on staying behind the plate.“At this point, Brian’s a catcher,” Abbott said. “He’s a 29-year-old catcher who’s on a Hall of Fame path. You don’t see those kind of guys hit free agency.”Abbott, though, conceded that McCann could be swayed to be more versatile, especially if it helps extend his career. The Rangers have already attempted to upgrade first base, missing out on Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, and could be interested in giving McCann games there.Joe Mauer and Buster Posey, former MVPs, are among the game’s catchers who also get time at first base.“I’m not saying as we get further along in the process he could change his feelings on the issue,” Abbott said.McCann, who turns 30 in February, will command one of the biggest contracts this off-season as the premier catcher on the market. The Rangers don’t have much interest in re-signing A.J. Pierzynski or bringing back Jarrod Saltalamacchia.Carlos Ruiz is another everyday catcher available before the market deteriorates into a large pool of backups. John Buck is among them, and the Rangers have shown interest in him in past off-seasons.The Rangers don’t have any viable candidates in the organization to serve as Soto’s backup. Their top catching prospect, Jorge Alfaro, needs at least one more year of seasoning in the minors.Holland honoredOn the day he presented a pair of $10,000 checks to two local children’s hospitals, Derek Holland was named the 2013 receipient of the Texas Rangers’ Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award.Holland donated money to the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth on Wednesday afternoon. The donations will help fund various purchases, from iPads to toys to child-sized hospital furniture.“My whole goal is to help them get through everything and then also be able to live that dream I’m living now,” Holland said.Holland has been active in supporting charities throughout his tenure with the Rangers. He has been the spokesman for the Texas Rangers MCA Fitness All-Stars and has supported campaigns to stop texting and driving.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST