The Texas Rangers concluded their search for a catcher early Friday afternoon, signing free-agent backstop J.P. Arencibia to a one-year deal, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Arencibia will earn a base salary of $1.8 million but incentives can push the total to $2.1 million, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The deal is pending a physical, which probably won't get done until the weather improves in Texas, so it may be a few days before the Rangers formally announce the signing.
Arencibia, 27, was released by the Blue Jays earlier this month after turning in not just his worst season at the plate, but also one of the worst by any full-time player in the last 70 years. Since 1945, just nine players have qualified for the batting title and finished the year with an on-base percentage under .250. Among those, Arencibia's .227 OBP mark this past season ranks the second worst.
Despite his on-base woes and a batting average (.194) under the Mendoza Line, Arencibia still managed to hit 21 home runs. His power stroke should play very well in Arlington, so if he can get his OBP up to something within at least one deviation of the league norm -- like the .279 mark he put up across 2011 and 2012 -- he could be a valuable piece for Texas, especially at such a low cost.
The Rangers probably didn't plan on signing a guy like Arencibia with the offseason began. However, with the catching market cupboard bare after Briann McCann, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all signed elsewhere, he was probably one of the team's best remaining options.
Arencibia will likely split time with Geovany Soto behind the dish, but which of them will get more time behind the plate remains to be seen. Both catchers hit from the right side of the plate, so any chance of employing a platoon at the position has gone out the window.