Geovany Soto Rumors
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.
Soto, 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.
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.
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.
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.
- The Rays have non-tendered Ben Francisco according to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays have non-tendered Bobby Wilson, the team announced.
- The Mariners have non-tendered Robert Andino, the team announced. They acquired him from the Orioles less than two weeks ago.
- The Rangers have non-tendered Geovany Soto, Brandon Snyder, and Jacob Brigham according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter).
- The Orioles have non-tendered Mark Reynolds in addition to Omar Quintanilla and Stuart Pomeranz, the team announced (on Twitter).
- The Athletics have non-tendered Jermaine Mitchell, the team announced. Mitchell was designated for assignment earlier this week.
- The Red Sox have non-tendered Rich Hill, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Atchison, the team announced. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports had the Sweeney news earlier (on Twitter) while Rob Bradford of WEEI.com had the Atchison news.
- The Indians announced they non-tendered Jack Hannahan, Rafael Perez and Chris Seddon
- The White Sox announced that they've non-tendered right-hander pitcher Anthony Carter and infielder Dan Johnson.
- The Royals announced that they won't tender outfielder Derrick Robinson a contract for 2013 (Twitter link). Robinson has no MLB experience so he wasn't arbitration eligible.
- The Tigers announced that they will non-tender Daniel Schlereth. The left-hander was limited to six appearances this past season, which he mostly spent on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. Schlereth was not yet arbitration eligible.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
- 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.
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.
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 Montero? Dave 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
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.
The Rangers wanted Geovany Soto enough to trade minor league pitcher Jake Brigham for him. Do they like him enough to earmark $4MM-plus and a roster spot for him in 2013? Soto doesn’t have any guarantee that his Rangers career will last more than a few months.
Soto has emerged as a 2012 non-tender candidate, since his offense has diminished to uncomfortably low levels. He’s on track for career-lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage this year, and after 206 total plate appearances he has a batting line of .201/.286/.348.
Those offensive numbers would be disappointing for just about any player, but they’re especially troubling for a former Rookie of the Year known for his bat. Soto was an above-average offensive player in 2008 and 2010, and his offense remained passable in 2009 and 2011. His batting average on balls in play is presently 74 points below his career average, an indication that bad luck has contributed to his poor season. Soto’s still just 29 years old and he has a history of hitting left-handed pitching (career .904 OPS vs. southpaws), so there’s some reason for optimism going forward.
Soto does an average job at limiting the running game. He has prevented 27% of stolen base attempts both this year (league average is 26%) and for his career. The Fielding Bible Volume III suggested before the season that Soto was a capable but unremarkable defensive catcher.
Soto now earns $4.3MM and is on track to go to arbitration for the third and final time this offseason. The Wasserman Media Group client projects to earn $4.6MM in 2013, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. If the Rangers view Soto as a platoon or backup catcher, they probably won’t be inclined to pay him starter money. And if they are willing to spend $4.5MM on a catcher, they’ll have plenty of choices other than Soto (only one free agent catcher obtained more than $4MM in guaranteed money last offseason).
Soto provides the Rangers with insurance in case Mike Napoli leaves as a free agent after the season. If Napoli signs with another team before the mid-December deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, Texas might be more inclined to retain Soto and hope for a return to his career norms in 2013.
It’s possible for players to restore their value and avoid non-tenders with a strong showing down the stretch. Delmon Young seemed likely to be non-tendered a year ago this time, but he hit eight home runs in 40 regular season games with the Tigers before adding five more homers in the postseason. If Soto shows flashes of being the same hitter he was in 2008 and 2010, the Rangers may determine he’s worth retaining for 2013. If not, expect him to hit free agency in December as a 2012 non-tender.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
The non-waiver trade deadline came and went and Cubs hurler Matt Garza wound up staying put in Chicago. Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer says that teams shied away in part because of the right-hander's tricep injury, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Here's more on the Cubs..
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Dodgers didn't wind up with Ryan Dempster because of the pitchers that they were unwilling to part with. GM Ned Colletti's four untouchables in talks for Dempster were right-handers Zach Lee, Allen Webster, and Rubby De La Rosa, and left-hander Chris Reed.
- The Rangers will pay all of Dempster's salary while the Cubs will pay all of Soto's salary, making it a virtual wash in terms of money, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Landing a solid prospect in Christian Villanueva was a reasonable return for the Cubs considering that their leverage to move Dempster was limited by his 10-and-5 rights, writes Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Villanueva was blocked in the Rangers organization but should have a chance to shine with the Cubs.
Soto, 29, has a .195/.278/.345 batting line in 194 plate appearances this year. The 2008 NL Rookie of the Year earns $4.3MM in 2012 and is on track to go to arbitration for the third time this offseason. However, he could be non-tendered given his salary. The Mets also had interest in trading for Soto.
The move led to the Rangers designating catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. If Soto's production improves, Texas will have an in-house alternative to Mike Napoli when he hits free agency this offseason. Otherwise, the Rangers could non-tender Soto and let him test the free agent market a year early.
Brigham, a 24-year-old right-hander, had been pitching at Double-A Frisco. He has a 4.28 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 124 innings over the course of 21 starts this year. Brigham is a fringe arm, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes (on Twitter). ESPN's Keith Law says he has "a plus fastball and power breaking ball but lacks the command and the third pitch to start."
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that a trade would take place and Tim Brown of Yahoo first reported that the Rangers acquired Soto. Photo courtesy of US Presswire/Benny Sieu.