J.P. Arencibia is headed from one hitters park to another.
The former Toronto Blue Jays catcher has worked out a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers. Arencibia reportedly will earn $1.8 million US in base salary and an additional $300,000 in possible incentives.
"I'm looking forward to this opportunity," Arencibia said in a conference call. "From playing against the Rangers and knowing the way they go about their business on the field. I know they got a winning team out there for quite some time so that was a big deal to me."
It’s believed the teams tried to work out a trade recently before Toronto chose not to offer Arencibia a contract, thus making the 27-year-old a free agent last week.
He turns 28 next month and figures to be a backup to Geovany Soto.
"We wanted to make sure we have two guys that were capable, durable guys that could, in case of an injury, go out there and carry the load. We were very impressed with J.P. His goal is to win and to be a tandem with Geo," Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. "We got two selfless guys who want to put the pitching staff first, also both have some offensive ability."
The Blue Jays then signed free agent Dioner Navarro to a two-year contract worth $8 million US after he posted a .300 batting average and a career-high 13 home runs in 89 games (240 at-bats) this past season with the Chicago Cubs.
Arencibia, on the other hand, suffered through a career-worst season in 2013. While his 21 homers were the second-highest total among major league catchers, he had career lows in batting average (.194), on-base percentage (.227) and slugging percentage (.365).
Arencibia, who also racked up a team-high 148 strikeouts, has compiled a .258 OBP in 1,392 major league plate appearances. He also has started the eighth-most games among major league backstops over the last seasons, averaging 108.
But his numbers in Arlington have been impressive, with a 1.040 OPS, thanks to seven home runs and a double in 44 plate appearances.
Arencibia is expected to back up veteran Geovany Soto.
According to dallasnews.com, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels wanted somebody who could step in and handle the load of playing every day should Soto get hurt.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said cutting Arencibia loose was “not an easy decision at all,” and predicted the catcher would improve next season.
It could happen, with a change of scenery and favourable hitting environment.
According to ESPN.com’s Park Factors, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington surrendered 0.903 home runs per game in 2013, which ranked 19th among the 30 major league parks.
Rogers Centre in Toronto was third with 1.289 home runs per game.