The Rangers announced that they’ve signed catcher A.J. Jimenez to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League camp in Spring Training. The 26-year-old Jimenez was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays last week and released earlier this week, but it didn’t take him long to find a new home.
Jimenez was once one of the top prospects in the Blue Jays organization, but he’s struggled at the plate in three consecutive minor league campaigns. The former ninth-round pick spent the 2016 season with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, hitting .241/.290/.377 with four home runs in 248 plate appearances. Overall, he’s a .242/.295/.355 hitter in parts of four seasons at that level. To his credit, Jimenez has thrown out 40 percent of attempted base thieves in his minor league career, and he’s typically been average or better in terms of pitch framing, per Baseball Prospectus (though he had a down season in that regard in ’16).
Texas is set at catcher with one of the game’s best, Jonathan Lucroy, set to receive the lion’s share of the playing time in 2016. Robinson Chirinos is on hand as a quality backup option, and the team also has veteran Brett Hayes in camp on a minors pact. Both Lucroy and Chirinos are likely to play in the World Baseball Classic, however, so in addition to a potential opening on the Triple-A roster for a catcher, the Rangers also simply need some depth to get through Spring Training.