Nashville, Tenn. – The Texas Rangers announced tonight that the club has signed right-handed pitcher Joakim Soria (pronounced WAH-keem SORE-ee-uh) to a two-year contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed, per club policy.
Soria, 28, is a two-time All-Star (2008 and 2010) and has 3 career seasons with 30-or-more saves (2008-10). He missed last season after having “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on April 3, 2012. The surgery was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles. He has gone 13-15 with 160 saves and a 2.40 ERA over 298 games in his major league career, all with Kansas City. His 160 saves are the most in big league history by a native of Mexico. The Royals originally acquired Soria in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft.
Soria had at least 28 saves in 4 consecutive seasons from 2008-11, as his 143 saves over in that stretch ranked 7th in the majors and 3rd among American League pitchers behind only Mariano Rivera (160) and Jonathan Papelbon (147). He saved 143 of the Royals’ 278 wins in that 4-year span (51.4%). Since becoming the Royals’ full-time closer on July 31, 2007, he has converted 150 of 167 (89.8%) save chances, the 3rd-highest percentage of any major league closer in that span (minimum 100 save opportunities) behind only Rivera (91.8) and Jose Valverde (89.9). Soria set a Royals club record by converting a career-high 36 consecutive save chances from May 13-September 30, 2010.
Among active pitchers with at least 100 career saves, the highest save percentages belong to Joe Nathan (89.5), Rivera (89.3), and Soria (88.9).
With the signing of Soria, the Rangers now have 38 players on the club’s 40-man roster.
DARVISH NAMED TO TOPPS ALL-ROOKIE TEAM: Rangers RHP Yu Darvish was named as the right-handed starter on the 54th annual Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team, the company has announced. He is just the second Texas pitcher ever selected for the honor, joining Neftali Feliz (2010), who was also the last Ranger to receive the honor. A Ranger has been selected in 4 of the last 5 years after the club had just 2 such selections from 1992-2007. Topps has selected an all-rookie squad since 1959.
RANGERS SIGN MINOR LEAGUE PLAYER: The Rangers have signed OF Chih Hsien Chiang to a minor league contract. The 24-year-old native of Taiwan will be in minor league camp this spring. Chiang bats left-handed and throws right-handed. He is still seeking his major league debut after combining to hit .249 with 7 homers and 48 RBI for Jackson (AA) and Tacoma (AAA) in the Seattle organization. He has a career .274 average in 7 minor league campaigns in the Boston and Seattle systems.