Geovany Soto Rumors

Rangers Notes: Profar, Andrus, Kinsler, McCann

Earlier today, Steve Adams profiled Rangers free agent Nelson Cruz.  The outfielder, who missed 50 games in 2013 thanks to his ties to the Biogenesis clinic, should find a healthy market this winter with many teams in need of offense.  Ultimately, Steve writes that Cruz could land a three-year, $39MM deal in free agency.  Here's the latest out of Arlington..

  • The Rangers have let other teams know they are willing to at least talk about one of their middle infielders — Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, or Jurickson Profar — in any trade discussions that come up this offseason, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  Industry sources say the club doesn't feel a sense of urgency to move any of the three, but they're keeping an open mind as they have other areas of need to address.  Texas has also made it clear to other teams they are not trying to dump Kinsler's salary and they won't pick up any part of the contract in order to facilitate a deal.
  • After re-signing catcher Geovany Soto yesterday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels stated to reporters that Soto was expected to be the team's primary catcher in 2014. However, Brian McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott of Jet Sports Management, tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he doesn't think the signing precludes McCann from going to the Rangers. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest pointed out yesterday (on Twitter) that Daniels made similar comments after signing Soto last season before going out and signing A.J. Pierzynski.
  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Soto signing actually makes a McCann signing more likely for the Rangers, as they now have a competent catcher to split time with McCann. Grant writes that the best way for McCann to match or surpass Yadier Molina's five-year, $75MM deal is to recognize the health risks associated with catching and accept a role in which he could start 70 games or so behind the plate plus another 70-80 games at DH.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Rangers Re-Sign Geovany Soto

The Rangers have re-signed catcher Geovany Soto to a one-year, $3.05MM deal, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram (via Twitter).  Soto will have the opportunity to add to his salary with incentives.

Soto, 31 in January, posted a .245/.328/.466 slash line with nine home runs in 54 games last season.  He also threw out ten of 34 (29.4%) attempted base stealers in 2013.  For his career, which was spent mostly in Chicago, Soto has hit .248/.335/.439.

It's not a surprise to see Soto back in Arlington after it was reported that he was interested in a return.  Meanwhile, fellow free agent backstop A.J. Pierzynski remains unsigned and while he also wants to come back to the Rangers, he could be lured away by another club in search of a catcher.

It's a decent raise for the veteran as he had a $2.75MM base salary in 2013.  Soto is represented by Kinzer Management Group.


AL West Notes: Rangers, McCann, Cruz, Angels, Astros

The Rangers' season came to an end last night after a 5-2 loss to the Rays in Game 163, shifting the team's focus to the upcoming offseason. General manager Jon Daniels told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports last night that there's "no question" Ron Washington will be the manager of next season's team (Twitter link). Here's more on the Rangers and the rest of the AL West…

  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes that the Rangers will likely target Brian McCann in free agency this offseason, as they've attempted to acquire him via trade multiple times and have had scouts following him closely.  That fits with Tim Dierkes' thoughts from McCann's recent free agent profile here at MLBTR.
  • Nelson Cruz wants to be back with the Rangers in 2014, he told reporters, including Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News. Cruz called the ovation he received in his first at-bat last night "special" and said he feels he's dealt with his mistakes and is ready to move on.
  • Both A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto would like to return to the Rangers, writes Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com. However, the team's potential pursuit of McCann could take precedence. Durrett also notes that Washington would love to have Joe Nathan back to close games for him in 2014. Nathan can void his option and is likely to seek a multiyear deal. Wills also notes that Washington would welcome Cruz back to the team as well. "Who wouldn't want Nelson Cruz?" asked Washington.
  • Some within the Angels camp expect both manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto to return in 2014, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. There have been rumors that one of the two is headed out the door.
  • With a young core now taking shape, Astros owner Jim Crane tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that the payroll will increase in 2014 and the team will look to add some free agents into the mix. Crane specifically mentions a power bat, help for the back of the rotation and bullpen arms as areas of need.


Rangers Re-Sign Geovany Soto

After rumors swirled around the Rangers and their catching situation for weeks, Texas has decided to retain the backstop that finished the 2012 season with the team, agreeing to a one-year deal with Geovany Soto. The deal, which is now official, will pay Soto $2.75MM, with incentives giving him the chance to earn $3MM.

Uspw_6592732Soto, 29, had a .198/.270/.343 batting line with 11 home runs in 361 plate appearances for the Rangers and Cubs last season. The catcher, who earned $4.3MM in 2012, was non-tendered by Texas just days ago. Last year marked a significant dip in offensive production for Soto, so the Rangers will hope to see him get closer to his career slash line .248/.336/.437 in 2013.

Soto is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database. With the former Cub off the market, A.J. Pierzynski headlines a fairly uninspiring group of free agent catchers.

Evan Grant of MLB.com reported the agreement between Soto and the Rangers, with Jon Heyman and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com adding financial details. Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.


Notable Non-Tendered Players

The non-tender deadline passed at midnight ET last night, and more than 30 new free agents hit the open market after their teams declined to make a contract offer. Our Non-Tender Tracker has the full list.

Most non-tendered players are fringe roster guys, but a few are established big leaguers who may have seen their performance slip or battled injury. In all cases, the team didn't consider him to be worth his expected salary in the upcoming season. Here's a look at some of this year's most notable non-tenders.

  • Jair Jurrjens – Still just 26, Jurrjens is one year removed from a 2.96 ERA in 152 innings. He's battled numerous injuries (including right knee surgery) and pitched so poorly earlier this year that he was sent to Triple-A. That said, the combination of age and past performance gives Jurrjens some of the highest upside on the free agent market.
  • Jeff Karstens – Karstens, 30, was limited to just 90 2/3 innings this year due to shoulder and hip problems, but he's pitched to a 3.59 ERA with a 1.7 BB/9 in 253 innings since the start of last year.
  • John Lannan – The Nationals didn't have a place for Lannan this year, so the 28-year-old spent most of the season in Triple-A despite a $5MM salary. The left-hander has thrown at least 180 innings in each of the last five seasons, so he adds a reliable southpaw to a free agent class surprisingly short on that type of pitcher.
  • Mark Reynolds – Power is hard to find these days, and the 29-year-old Reynolds hit 37 home runs just a year ago. He dipped to .221/.335/.429 with 23 homers this year, though he did produce a .258/.374/.525 line with 20 homers in 353 plate appearances from early-May through early-September. Although his best position is first base, a power-starved team could give Reynolds a look at third base given the shallow free agent pool.
  • Geovany Soto – The free agent catching market is weak, especially now that Russell Martin has signed with the Pirates, so the 29-year-old Soto could become a popular target in short order. He hit just .198/.270/.343 in 361 plate appearances this year, but a year ago he put up a respectable .228/.310/.411 line with 17 homers. Enough teams need catching help that Soto should have little trouble finding a new employer.
  • Brian Wilson – It's been two years since Wilson, 30, was truly dominant. He's coming off his second Tommy John surgery and posted a 3.11 ERA in 55 innings last season while his strikeout (8.8 K/9) and walk (5.1 BB/9) rates took big hits, but teams do love to roll the dice on formerly elite closers coming off down seasons and/or injury. Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle hears Wilson was upset after being non-tendered and has told people he will not re-sign with the Giants.
  • Other non-tendered players like Scott Atchison, Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Pelfrey (coming off Tommy John surgery), and Nate Schierholtz have proven useful in various roles and figure to be relatively popular targets as free agents.

American League Non-Tenders

Here are today’s American League non-tenders. All decisions must be in by 11pm CT tonight. Be sure to track all tender decisions using MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. Related resources include our list of non-tender candidates, our projected arbitration salaries and our arbitration eligibles series.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Catching Rumors: Pierzynski, Martin, Soto

Earlier today we heard that the Red Sox maintain interest in Mike Napoli, even after signing David Ross. Here are some more rumors surrounding this offseason’s free agent catchers…

  • It appears A.J. Pierzynski will play for a team other than the White Sox in 2013, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. While the sides are both interested in working out a new free agent contract, factors such as payroll space, timing and Tyler Flowers could mean Pierzynski signs elsewhere.
  • The Rangers are considering Russell Martin, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). With Napoli on the open market, the Rangers are looking to free agency for potential replacements. Rival executives expect the Rangers to non-tender Geovany Soto, Olney reports. Back in August I explained why Soto could be non-tendered this offseason.
  • Check out MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker for a detailed look at available catchers.

Rangers Targeting Catchers This Offseason

Given Mike Napoli's status as an impending free agent, the Rangers will be looking for catching help this offseason, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Rangers have been ambivalent when asked if Napoli will receive a qualifying offer, according to Sullivan. As we learned last week, that offer would be $13.3MM on a one-year deal.

Sullivan also writes that it's likely the Rangers and Blue Jays will enter into trade discussions this offseason, given Toronto's catching surplus. The Blue Jays have J.P. Arencibia at the Major League level, with Travis d'Arnaud knocking on the door in Triple-A. Both profile as starting catchers, and the Jays also have Jeff Mathis and the recently claimed Bobby Wilson on their 40-man roster. Toronto would likely seek pitching depth in any deal involving a catcher.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels acquired Geovany Soto over the summer as a means to bolster the position for the stretch run. Soto currently profiles as the starter in Texas, but would become a non-tender candidate if the Rangers were to add a significant piece in the offseason. The 2008 NL Rookie of the Year earned $4.3MM in 2012 and would be due for a raise through arbitration despite hitting just .198/.270/.343. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith examined Soto as a non-tender candidate back in August.

All of this, of course, is assuming that the Rangers are unable to retain Napoli's services. Napoli hopes to return to the Rangers, according to Sullivan, but that will be dependent on what kind of offers he receives. Another factor could be how he's used in the lineup. Napoli went on record in July stating that he prefers catching to playing first base, so he could have interest in a team that will use him beind the plate more (though that's just my own speculation).

Check out MLBTR's 2013 free agent list for a full look at the upcoming class of catchers that the Rangers could pursue.


AL West Notes: Angels, Soto, Montero, Athletics

The A's picked up a 12-4 win in Detroit today to move 3.5 games behind Texas for first place in the AL West, a deficit that could be further cut to three games should the Rangers lose to the Angels tonight.  The A's and Rangers still have seven games remaining against each other, so the division race may not be decided until the very last day of the season.  Here's some news from around the AL West…

  • Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl denied reports that the team is negotiating with the City of Industry about a new ballpark, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Angels had been in "preliminary talks" with Industry officials about moving the team after the 2016 season, when the Angels can opt out of their lease at Angel Stadium.  In addition to Kuhl, officials from Industry and the proposed building site also denied the report.
  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine told Bryan Dolgin of ESPNDallas.com that he has been impressed by the "seamless transition" catcher Geovany Soto made after Texas acquired him from the Cubs midseason. Soto is a non-tender candidate heading into the 2012-13 offseason.
  • Could the Mariners trade Jesus MonteroDave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog thinks the M's should consider the possibility, given that the team has John Jaso and Mike Zunino at catcher and Montero's bat projects as a long-term project, according to Cameron's metrics.
  • Remarkably, Athletics starters Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin were selling running shoes around this time last year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. The rookie pitchers have helped their team to an 85-64 record and excellent playoff position.

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post


Make Or Break Year: How Are They Doing?

Before the season, we identified 11 players who were entering "make or break" years. These guys had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for nice paydays in the future. Now that we're into August, let's take a second to check in each player (all links go to MLBTR posts)…

  • Scott Baker, Twins — Baker, 30, had elbow surgery in April and will miss the entire season. Minnesota will likely decline his $9.25MM option for 2013 (no buyout).
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees — The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings this year, including a 3.40 ERA since mid-May. He's a safe bet to be tendered a contract for 2014, his final year as a arbitration-eligible player.
  • Jair Jurrjens, Braves — Jurrjens, 26, pitched so poorly earlier in the season that he had to be sent to the minors. He's since resurfaced and owns 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, cementing his status as a non-tender candidate.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays — Lind has battled back problems and also been demoted to Triple-A this season, and he's hit .227/.298/.394 while with the big league team. The 29-year-old continues to disappoint since signing his four-year, $18MM extension prior to 2010.
  • Francisco Liriano, White Sox — It's been another up and down season for the 28-year-old southpaw, who owns a 5.03 ERA in 111 innings. The Twins traded Liriano to the ChiSox at the deadline.
  • James Loney, Dodgers — Loney, now 28, hasn't helped himself at all this season, hitting just .251/.301/.330 in 327 plate appearances. He might have to settle for a minor league contract this coming offseason.
  • Kendrys Morales, Angels — The 29-year-old is hitting .282/.327/.455 with 14 homers on the year, well below the level he established prior to his leg injury in 2010. Morales figures to be both a trade and non-tender candidate after the season.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets — Pelfrey pitched to a 2.29 ERA in three starts before needing Tommy John surgery. The Mets are expected to non-tender the 28-year-old after the season.
  • Geovany Soto, Rangers — The 29-year-old backstop has continued to deal with injuries in 2012 and is hitting just .201/.289/.356. Soto is an obvious non-tender candidate.
  • Kevin Youkilis, White Sox — Youkilis lost his starting job with the Red Sox and was traded to the White Sox, who are likely to decline his $13MM option after the season. The 33-year-old has dealt with nagging injuries and is hitting .238/.339/.427 overall.
  • Delmon Young, Tigers — Young, 26, has had a below-average season at the plate (.266/.298/.402) and has dealt with some off-field problems. He hasn't helped his free agent stock any.