When the Texas Rangers declined to pick up the qualifying option on catcher Geovany Soto for $5 million on Friday, it seemed as though they might be washing their hands of both Soto and Mike Napoli at the catcher position.
Napoli, of course, is now a Boston Red Sock? Sox? Whatever. The Rangers then decided to bring Soto back at a reduced rate on Sunday, giving him a one-year deal worth $2.75 million and a possible $250,000 in incentives that could take it to $3 million.
With the free agent catching market being as weak as it has been in recent memory, the options are very limited unless the Rangers want to fork over some good prospects for some catchers being shopped around out there. According to GM Jon Daniels, it doesn't seem likely that will happen.
Daniels said on Tuesday that Soto will have the opportunity to win the starting job and the Rangers would be searching for a backup catcher for him, not someone to compete with him.
“When Soto’s in shape and healthy, he’s shown he can carry the load,” Daniels told The Dallas Morning News. “He can be a primary guy. As we sit right now, he’s got that opportunity.”
Soto showed last season that he had a good handle on the Rangers' pitching staff, specifically Yu Darvish, who threw to Soto over his last handful of starts when he was starting to show down the stretch that he was what the Rangers had hoped he'd be.
While he hit just .196 with the Rangers (.198 with the Cubs before being traded), Soto has proven before that he can handle a bat, hitting .280 back in 2010 and .285 in 2008 when he was named NL Rookie of the Year.
Quite frankly, if the Rangers fill out their lineup like they hope to this winter, they can handle a lack of offensive punch from a catcher who can call a good game and handle a staff with success.