Geovany Soto Rumors

Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

AL Central Notes: Johan, Hughes, Reimold, Swisher, Sox

Though Johan Santana‘s comeback attempt briefly stalled when he experienced some shoulder discomfort, it appears he’s back on course, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the former Cy Young winner will throw a bullpen session today and is tentatively scheduled to pitch Game 5 of the Venezuelan Winter League finals next week. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the Twins will be scouting each of those showings, though his sense is that a return to his former stomping grounds isn’t in the cards for Santana.

More on the Twins and their division…

  • Right-hander Phil Hughes told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger that he was excited to sign a long-term extension with the Twins in December due to the high level of comfort that he felt in his first year with the club. Hughes implied that he entered the offseason hoping to work out a longer deal and was clearly able to do that, signing for an additional three years and $42MM on Dec. 22. However, Hughes noted that he wouldn’t have signed if he didn’t think the team was close to contending in the near future. Minnesota’s enviable farm system and their willingness to spend on veterans, demonstrated by signing Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana this winter, were both factors in Hughes’ decision as well.
  • The Indians are showing a great deal of interest in Nolan Reimold, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Cleveland is trying to sign the former Oriole to a minor league deal, Kubtako notes, though he adds that the Orioles remain in the mix as well. Reimold, 31, has battled significant injuries over the past few seasons but does own a solid .251/.324/.439 batting line in 1134 big league plate appearances.
  • Nick Swisher struggled through the worst season of his career last year with the Indians, though many of his struggles were likely attributable to knee problems that plagued him all season. Swisher, who underwent surgery on both knees in August, explained to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince that his knees were so bad that he literally could not walk to the bathroom at night (Twitter links). He admitted to Castrovince that he wished he’d had the operations sooner, but wanted to play through the pain due to the investment that the Indians made in him. Cleveland inked the Ohio native to a four-year, $56MM pact two offseasons ago.
  • At their annual Sox Fest event earlier today, White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, that bullpen depth and another utility infielder to use versus left-handed pitching were the two primary items remaining on his offseason wishlist (Twitter link). Hahn also said that minor league signee Geovany Soto has a good chance to make the team out of Spring Training, so long as he can show that he is healthy (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).

White Sox To Sign Geovany Soto

The White Sox and catcher Geovany Soto have agreed to terms on a minor league contract for the 2015 season, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. The Kinzer Management Group client will be invited to Major League Spring Training and compete for a 25-man roster spot, Levine adds (Twitter links).

Soto, 32, missed much of the 2014 season as he recovered from offseason surgeries on his left foot and right knee, and a groin injury sidelined him for two weeks in July as well. That trio of physical ailments limited him to just 87 plate appearances between the Rangers and Athletics, though he was expected to handle the bulk of Texas’ catching duties at the onset of the season. Overall, Soto batted .250/.302/.363 with one homer on the year. The former NL Rookie of the Year looked much sharper with the Rangers in 2013 when he batted .245/.328/.466 with nine homers in 184 trips to the plate.

Soto’s performance has fluctuated fairly significantly on a year-to-year basis, but the cumulative sum of his efforts over the past five seasons and over the entirety of his career has been roughly a league-average bat, in terms of OPS+. A lifetime .248/.334/.436 hitter, Soto offers above-average plate discipline and pop for a catcher when he’s healthy, but he does come with a fairly lengthy injury history.

Tyler Flowers currently projects to be the everyday catcher for the White Sox, with 2014 backup Adrian Nieto, waiver claim Rob Brantly and minor league signee George Kottaras all fighting for time behind the dish as well. I’d wager that Soto’s track record gives him a leg up over much of the competition, provided he’s healthy. Ultimately, I could see him overtaking Flowers as the starter, given the fact that Flowers’ .241/.297/.396 batting line was bolstered by an unsustainable .355 average on balls in play. If that number regresses toward his career mark of .308 and Flowers continues striking out at a 35 to 36 percent clip, it wouldn’t be surprising if another starter emerged for the ChiSox eventually.



Rangers, Astros Discussing Carlos Corporan Trade

JAN. 20: The Rangers and Astros are still discussing a Corporan trade following his DFA earlier today, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears that Texas is emerging as the “clear favorite” to acquire Corporan (Twitter link).

JAN. 15: The Rangers are still on the hunt for catching help, and a pair of reports have them in pursuit of Astros backstop Carlos Corporan and free agent Geovany Soto. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros and Rangers have discussed a trade of Corporan, while Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds (via Twitter) that the team is also interested in Soto.

Corporan, 31, batted .235/.302/.376 with six homers in 190 plate appearances for Houston last year. Over the past three seasons, he’s batted .237/.297/.383 with 17 homers in 485 PAs. That line should give some kind of rough expectation for the type of production that Corporan can provide — questionable on-base skills with respectable pop for a catcher. (His .146 isolated power in that time is 11 points better than the league-average catcher in 2014.)

From a defensive standpoint, Corporan has typically graded out very well in terms of pitch-framing, and his 25.5 percent caught-stealing rate over the past three seasons is merely a tick below the league average of 27 percent. Corporan is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and projects to earn a very reasonable $1MM. He can be controlled through the 2017 season.

Soto, of course, is no stranger to the Rangers organization, having spent parts of the past three seasons in Texas. With the Rangers, he’s batted a combined .223/.287/.401, displaying the same low-OBP, above-average pop skill set that Corporan has brought to the table. He’s thrown out a superior 28.6 percent of runners in the past three seasons, though his once strong framing grades have declined, per Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner.com.

It seems then, based on these targets, that the Rangers are comfortable without a big-name catcher behind the dish after missing out on a notable name yesterday in the form of Evan Gattis, who was traded to the Astros. Any catcher acquired by Texas would pair with Robinson Chirinos, whose 338 PAs were far and away a career-high last season for an injury-plagued Rangers club. Chirinos hit .239/.290/.415 with 13 homers in that time.


Quick Hits: A’s, Lynn, Soto, Johan

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld a previous ruling rejecting the city of San Jose’s challenge of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Fangraphs’ Nathaniel Grow reports (Twitter link).  As explained by CSNBayArea.com’s Joe Stiglich, the ruling is another obstacle in San Jose’s attempt to bring the Athletics to town, and an eventual courtroom victory in front of the Supreme Court seems unlikely.  The A’s may only be allowed to move if a majority of team owners votes down the Giants’ territorial rights claim on San Jose or if the Giants are financially compensated for giving up the area, Stiglish notes.

Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • The Cardinals and Lance Lynn discussed a longer-term deal before settling on a three-year extension that buys out Lynn’s three arbitration years, GM John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch).  “Obviously, when you start talking about free-agent years or option years, there’s a cost to that,” Mozeliak said. “It certainly was something that was on the table and discussed. But ultimately the comfort of something getting done, even though it may feel short, it gives us some cost certainty.”
  • Geovany Soto is expected to sign within the next few days, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  The Rangers are among the teams still in the hunt for the veteran catcher.
  • The Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Rangers and Rays were among the teams who scouted Johan Santana‘s recent Venezuelan Winter League appearance, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.  The Yankees, whose interest in Santana was already known, also had a scout present.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that his team is “probably not” going to sign Max Scherzer.  “We’ve been in a situation where we’re pretty well set with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve got five starters that we’re comfortable [with]. I guess you never tell what happens, but we’re not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now.”  Dombrowski has consistently made statements of this type all winter, though there have been whispers that Scherzer could wind up back in Detroit thanks to the relationship between Scott Boras and Mike Ilitch.
  • Right-hander Kameron Loe and outfielder Terrell Joyce have both been issued 50-game suspensions following positive tests for a drug of abuse, the Commissioner’s Office announced.  Both players are currently free agents.  Loe posted a 4.49 ERA over 569 innings in the bigs with five teams from 2004-13, while Joyce (a 12th-round Astros draft pick in 2012) has a career .229/.308/.396 slash line over 704 minor league plate appearances in Houston’s farm system.

Free Agent Notes: Saunders, Soto, Billingsley

Left-hander Joe Saunders has switched agents and is now being represented by The Legacy Agency, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).  Saunders had previously been a Legacy client prior to the 2014 season, when he made the change to Craig Landis of LSW Baseball.  Be sure to check out the MLB Trade Rumors Agency Database for agency info on over 1,700 players.  Agents: if you’ve got a 40-man roster player or top prospect whose representation is not correctly noted, we welcome corrections at mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Here’s some more about other veteran free agents on the hunt for their next team…

  • Catcher Geovany Soto is talking to four teams, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This number represents a slight narrowing of Soto’s field, as we heard last month that five or six teams were in the mix for his services, including the Rangers, one of his former clubs.
  • Right-hander Chad Billingsley has received multiple offers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Billingsley has only pitched 12 innings in the majors since the start of the 2013 season due to a number of elbow injuries, plus a recovery from Tommy John surgery.  The Diamondbacks had expressed interest in Billingsley earlier this offseason, which is no surprise given that Arizona GM Dave Stewart is Billingsley’s former agent.
  • Mark Ellis‘ agent Jamie Murphy tells Crasnick (Twitter link) that his client looks to play next season if the right situation emerges.  Ellis, 37, suffered through a tough 2014 campaign with the Cardinals that included a pair of DL stints and a .180/.253/.213 slash line over 202 plate appearances.

NL West Notes: Shields, Stewart, Dickerson

It’s been a wild day of major moves in the NL West, and here are a few more news items from around the division…

  • The Giants don’t intend to pursue Max Scherzer, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link).
  • The Giants “will go hard on” signing James Shields, Peter Gammons tweets.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including Zach Buchanan of azcentral.com)  that Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro or Tigers catcher Alex Avila could be fits for his team in their search for help behind the plate, while the Snakes have no interest in Geovany Soto.  Stewart said his team doesn’t intend to trade relief pitching to obtain a catcher, however.
  • Also from Stewart, he said the D’Backs aren’t looking into extending any players at the present time, though he named Mark Trumbo, Addison Reed, Oliver Perez, Chris Owings, Chase Anderson and A.J. Pollock as possible extension candidates.
  • The Rockies are receiving “massive interest” in Corey Dickerson, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Despite all this interest, Colorado would have to get an overwhelming offer to deal the outfielder.
  • Also from Rosenthal, it’s been nothing but “crickets” for the Rockies on interest in Troy Tulowitzki.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.

Athletics Acquire Geovany Soto

The Athletics have acquired catcher Geovany Soto from the Rangers, according to a tweet from Mark Madson. The Rangers will receive cash considerations for Soto, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. The Athletics announced that they cleared space for Soto on their 40-man roster by moving Kyle Blanks to the 60-day DL.

The 31-year-old Soto has played sparingly this season due to injury, but he’s now healthy, and he was very effective in 2013, hitting .245/.328/.466 in part-time duty. The Athletics already have two good catchers in Derek Norris and John Jaso on their active roster, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Jaso has recently experienced worsening concussion symptoms and will likely need a stay on the disabled list. And as ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets, Stephen Vogt, another catcher on the active roster, is currently dealing with a foot issue that makes catching difficult. (Vogt can also play first base and outfield.) Soto could see time at DH as well as behind the plate, but he has no significant history at any other position.

Soto, a former National League Rookie of the Year (with the Cubs), re-signed a one-year, $3.05MM contract with the Rangers this offseason. He’s owed $600K through the end of the season, at which point he will be a free agent. Soto is hitting .237/.237/.368 this season, although that comes in a small sample of just 38 plate appearances. In 2483 Major League plate appearances, Soto is a .248/.333/.438 batter.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day were officialy submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:

  • The Rangers announced they have purchased the contract of infielder Josh Wilson. After designating Adam Rosales for assignment and placing catcher Geovany Soto on the 60-day disabled list, there remains one opening on the Rangers' 40-man roster.
  • The Diamondbacks announced they have added right-hander Daniel Hudson to the 40-man roster and promptly placed him on the 15-day disabled list as he recovers from his second Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks last December.
  • The Cubs announced they have purchased the contracts of right-hander Brian Schlitter and catcher John Baker and placed right-hander James McDonald on the 60-day disabled list. The Cubs' roster now stands at 40.