At the 9:00 Pacific Time deadline (because I live in California) on Friday night, the Rangers decided to non-tender catcher Geovany Soto, rendering him a free agent and making the 2013 backstop situation a little more murky than we initially thought it would be. And, well, here we are, a speckle over 48 hours later, and Soto has indeed been re-signed by the Rangers, although terms have yet to be disclosed.
It was my opinion all along that Texas was going to non-tender Soto, because, seriously, going to arbitration with a guy who was pathetic down the stretch on the offensive side (.196/.253/.338) just didn’t make any sense, especially given his $4.6M contract expectation (per mlbtraderumors). Your best bet is to assume something between $3M-$4M, and hopefully it’s closer to the lower number.
With Soto in the fold, it clears up one half of the Rangers 2013 catching situation. What that means? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps the Rangers pursue a catcher from Washington or Toronto on the trade market, or maybe they look to retain Mike Napoli. Keeping Napoli at his purported 4-year, double-digit AAV asking price probably means you can forget about adding Zach Greinke to the rotation, but so much is up in the air right now that your guess is as good as mine or anyone else’s. What we know is, there’s less pressure on the Rangers ascertaining a catcher now that we know we have one. Does that mean now’s a good time to give up on the issue? Not at all. But having Soto means we don’t have to worry about throwing out Luis Martinez as our primary backstop, and it adds a tiny grain of leverage in our negotiations with potential trade partners, as well as free agents on the open market.
If you ask me, I don’t believe the Rangers will be attaining A.J. Pierzynski on the open market, and most logically you’d like to see a primary defensive guy along the lines of Kelly Shoppach catching between 65-80 games next year. A big reason why Soto was brought back was due to how well he dealt with the pitching staff, particularly Yu Darvish, so if you were hoping the Rangers were going to bring in an offensive juggernaut of the Buster Posey ilk, you should probably get back to playing your video games. Turning the “fair trades” option off is not applicable in real life.
Texas is dealing with a limited budget. We know this. But having one player in the fold is a promising sign, and tells what should be coming in the next several days and weeks, as the Rangers look to retool a roster featuring numerous holes.
The Winter Meetings begin tomorrow, and it should lay the groundwork for what’s to come of the franchise in 2013.