The Texas Rangers have acquired former All-Star and Rookie of the Year catcher Geovany Soto in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Jacob Brigham in a deal that makes a lot of sense for the Rangers while the Cubs get a bit of salary relief and a serviceable arm in return.
Soto may only be hitting .199/.284/.347 on the season but he is one year removed from posting a +2.4 fWAR and two years removed from posting a 3.4 fWAR that included a 135 wRC+. Soto’s bat has been a major disappointment this season but he has been very unlucky with a BABIP of only .215 compared to a near .300 career mark coming into the season. If I were a betting man I would place a bet on some sports betting site that Soto will rebound with the bat.
Soto has also been pretty good behind the plate with a +1.7 UZR this season and a +4.3 UZR in 2011. This is an immediate upgrade over recently DFA’d catcher Yorvit Torrealba who had a -2.5 UZR this year and Mike Napoli who has a -2.8 UZR in limited action behind the plate.
Soto threw out 30% of attempted base stealers in 2011 and has thrown out 27.5% of attempted base stealers this season with only one passed ball while Napoli alone has eight passed balls and Torrealba has four. The two Texas catchers had combined to throw out only 21.8% of attempted base stealers.
This trade also allows the Rangers to move get Napoli more at-bats at first base and to rotate the designated hitter spot to keep players fresh down the stretch run. Yes, this would mean a more limited role for everyone’s favorite team MVP, Michael Young, but is that such a bad thing?
The Cubs get a serviceable arm in Jake Brigham, who did not appear in my pre-season Rangers top prospect list, who has a mid-90s fastball and above-average slider but no real third pitch and struggles against left-handed hitter. He has the chance to be a back-end starter but I see more of a power-armed reliever very capable of getting most right-handed batters out.
Brigham is repeating Double-A at age 24 and without getting better results. His 4.50 ERA matches last season’s 4.49 and his 4.58 FIP is in increase over last season’s 4.23. Yes, he has posted much better walk rates but with a small dip in strikeout rates and increase in homerun rate.
The Cubs also get a little bit of salary relief and now get to play Welington Castillo, who ranked 6th in my pre-season Cubs top prospect list, and Steve Clevenger regularly to see if one can be part of the team’s long term plans.
The Rangers essentially gave up from their pitching depth to get a catcher who can throw runners out, receive, and has a bat that couldeasily be above league average. With Mike Napoli in the final year of his contract this was a great move by the Rangers who may have their 2013 catcher under team control now.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt