The Re-Signing of Geovany Soto

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It might not be the most exciting deal of the Rangers’ offseason. It might make you a little uneasy to hear Jon Daniels and Ron Washington refer to Soto as their “primary catcher” for 2014. But it had to be done.
At $3.05 million on a one-year commitment, the Rangers have acquired the seventh-best catcher available on the free agent market according to fWAR (1.0). The six available catchers who rank higher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3.6), Brian McCann (2.7), Dioner Navarro (1.7), A.J. Pierzynski (1.6), Carlos Ruiz (1.4) and John Buck (1.4).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who reportedly wants to stay in Boston and would be willing to do so at a discount, posted impressive numbers in 2013 (.273/.338/.466, 14 HR), but was also helped out by a .372 BABIP.  Add this to the rumors that Salty didn’t exactly feel like Texas gave him a fair shake, and he’s probably not an option.

The Rangers are not giving up on their pursuit of Brian McCann, but what if he costs $100 million over 5 years?

Switch-hitting Dioner Navarro is an interesting option, but his 266 at bats in 2013 were his most in the major leagues since 2009, and has never put together back-to-back productive seasons.

A.J. Pierzynski is 36 years old and is not highly thought of as a receiver behind the plate. He’s also under the impression that he is required, by rule, to swing at every pitch he sees.

Carlos Ruiz is entering his age 35 season and saw his OPS drop 247 points from 2012 to 2013 (.935 in 2012, .688 in 2013).

After a huge April in 2013, John Buck posted a .592 OPS for the remainder of the year, and will turn 34 in 2014.

The fact of the matter is, very few teams derive a lot of offensive production from the catcher position these days. The league average slash for a catcher in 2013: .245/.310/.388 for an OPS of .698. By comparison, Soto posted a .245/.328/.466 in his 184 PA.

He’s familiar with the existing staff, he might be Yu Darvish’s preferred catcher, and he is still a former Rookie of the Year who produced All-Star-level numbers twice during his career (2008 and 2010). When there are only a handful of attractive options available and several teams vying for their services, you say yes when Geovany Soto walks in willing to sign a $3.05 million deal. It’s a no-brainer. It’s like what buying insurance would be like if insurance ever really covered anything.

Whether Geovany Soto remains an insurance policy or becomes a primary catcher, he represents a viable option that occupies a very small portion of the 2014 budget. If the Rangers decide to upgrade their roster through free agency at 1B, DH, or LF, they can do so without being hamstrung by the looming need to find a catcher.

And if they want to sign Brian McCann, well they can do that, too.

Robert Pike is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Robert.Pike@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @Bob_Pike.
Robert Pike

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