The Rays have signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a Minor League contract, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The veteran Arencibia, a client of CAA Sports, will head to the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham, per Topkin.
The 29-year-old Arencibia was outrighted by the Rangers last winter and elected free agency rather than accepting an assignment to the Minors. He originally inked a Minors pact with the Orioles, but Baltimore cut him loose last week when he had previously been expected to join their Triple-A affiliate. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that Arencibia preferred not to head to Triple-A with Baltimore, as the O’s have a significant amount of catching depth already in their organization.
The same cannot necessarily be said of the Rays, who are currently relying on a tandem of Rene Rivera and Bobby Wilson behind the plate, with Curt Casali as the top option at the Triple-A level. Arencibia has more big league service time than any of those catching options, even Rivera, and will give Tampa a depth option with significant power but difficulty managing his strikeouts and getting on base.
Arencibia, once considered one of baseball’s top prospects, was the Blue Jays’ regular catcher from 2011-13, averaging 21 homers per season and 28 per 162 games played. However, his OBP dropped regularly in that stretch, bottoming out at an alarming .227 in 2013. Arencibia also saw his strikeout rate climb from 27.4 percent to 29 percent to 29.8 percent over that three-year stretch. He joined the Rangers last season and saw some time at first base but did little to pick up his offensive game.
From a defensive standpoint, Arencibia has been just a tick below average in controlling the running game (26 percent caught-stealing rate) and steadily improved his pitch framing. He graded above average in that latter skill in 2013 and average in 2014.