The Phillies announced that they’ve signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The Phillies also confirmed their previously reported signing of Ernesto Frieri and announced minor league deals/camp invites for infielder Angelys Nina and right-handers Greg Burke and Gregory Infante.
Arencibia, 30 next month, enjoyed outstanding results at the plate in a short stint with the Rays last season, hitting .310/.315/.606 with six homers in 71 plate appearances. While those results are impressive, certainly, Arencibia’s Achilles heel over the life of his career has been huge strikeout numbers against dismal walk rates, and that continued in 2015. Arencibia walked just once in his 71 PAs but struck out a jarring 22 times (31 percent), which was enough that the Rays didn’t feel he was a part of their 2016 plans; he was designated for assignment and released this offseason.
Arencibia has caught base-stealers at a roughly league-average rate across parts of six Major League seasons, and he graded as a plus framer back in 2013 before posting average and below-average marks in smaller samples from 2014-15. Overall, he’s a lifetime .212/.258/.412 hitter in the big leagues.
Philadelphia could use some catching depth, however, as the only catchers on the 40-man roster there are Carlos Ruiz, Cameron Rupp and Jorge Alfaro, the latter of whom is not yet Major League ready despite his notable prospect status.
As for the rest of the signees, Burke and Infante figure to be depth options. Each has reached the Major Leagues in the past despite slightly below-average control numbers at Triple-A, with the 33-year-old Burke seeing significantly more big league time (4.77 ERA in 77 1/3 innings) than the 28-year-old Infante (4 2/3 innings with the 2010 White Sox). Nina, 27, is a versatile defender that saw action at second base, shortstop, third base and left field in 2015 while hitting .300/.333/.402 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.