Arlington, Texas - The Texas Rangers announced today that the club has signed free agent catcher Geovany Soto to a one-year contract for the 2014 season. Financial terms were not disclosed, per club policy.
Soto, who will turn 31 in January, batted .245 with 9 home runs, 9 doubles, and 22 RBI in 54 games/49 starts for the Rangers last season, including a .324 (23-71) average after the All-Star break. He also threw out 10 of 34 (29.4%) attempted base stealers in 2013, the sixth-best percentage among American League catchers with at least 30 attempts against. His .995 (2 E/424 TC) fielding percentage ranked seventh in the A.L. among catchers with 50+ games. Soto, who started 15 of Yu Darvish's 32 starts, had a 3.67 catchers ERA last season. He joined the Cubs' Donnie Murphy and Mariners' Franklin Gutierrez as the only major league players with at least 9 homers and 22 RBI while playing 54 games-or-less in 2013. He was the first Ranger to do it since Mitch Moreland in 2010.
Eight of Soto's 9 home runs in 2013 came in the fifth inning-or-later, and his 3 home runs of 3-or-4 runs last season ranked second among Rangers to only Nelson Cruz (6). His game-ending home run on July 29 vs. Los Angeles-AL was the first of three consecutive walk-off home runs by the Rangers in a series against the Angels, and began a span in which Texas won 5 straight and 13 of 14 games. He batted .307 (23-75) in 26 games at Rangers Ballpark last season, and had a .272 (22-81) average against A.L. West opponents.
Originally acquired by Texas in a July 31, 2012 trade with the Chicago Cubs, he will be in his second full season with the Rangers next year. He has a career .248 average with 91 home runs in 656 major league games with Chicago-NL (2005-12) and Texas (2012-13). Soto was a National League All-Star and the N.L. Rookie of the Year with the Cubs in 2008.
With the signing of Soto, the Rangers now have 35 players on the club's 40-man roster.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE / WINTER BALL UPDATE: Some updates from Ranger players in fall/winter leagues:
Arizona Fall League: C Jorge Alfaro, who played in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game on Saturday, ranks among AFL leaders in batting (2nd, .385), runs (T3rd, 14), hits (T5th, 20), doubles (T5th, 5), and OPS (9th, .943)…the Columbia native also rates statistically as the top defensive catcher in the AFL with a .990 fielding percentage (1 E/100 TC), while throwing out 6 of 10 (60%) attempted base stealers…1B/C Brett Nicholas, who joined Alfaro on the AFL West All-Star squad, went 3-for-4 with 2 solo home runs to earn Most Valuable Player honors in Saturday's contest…RHP Keone Kela recorded a 4-out save in his last appearance for Surprise on Friday and has totaled 5.2 scoreless innings and 7 strikeouts in 4 appearances for the Saguaros.
Dominican Winter League: INF Jurickson Profar (Licey) ranks 2nd in the Dominican Winter League with a .365 average (19-52) over his first 14 games…Profar also places among league leaders in runs (1st, 14), hits (T3rd, 19), on-base percentage (4th, .460), walks (T4th, 10), and doubles (T5th, 5)…LHP Robbie Ross (Este) made his 2nd start on Sunday against Oriente (3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R-ER, 1 BB, 3 SO).
Venezuelan Winter League: SS Luis Sardinas (La Guaira) had hit safely in 6 of his last 8 games at .353 (12-34) to raise his average to .344, 9th-highest in the Venezuelan Winter League…LHP Joseph Ortiz (La Guaira) has allowed just one unearned run in 2.0 innings over his first 2 appearances in the VWL.