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12/01/12 12:20 AM ET
Soto a free agent as Rangers don't offer contract
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers ended this past season with Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto splitting time at catcher. Now they are both free agents.
The Rangers made Soto a free agent by not offering him a contract by Friday's 11 p.m. CT deadline. Soto can now sign with any team, although Texas is still trying to re-sign him. The club worked on it all day on Friday and did not announce its decision until 20 minutes before the deadline.
Soto has told the Rangers that he would like to return. But he was eligible for arbitration after making $4.3 million this past season, and would have likely received at least a nominal raise despite his poor offensive numbers. The Rangers weren't comfortable with risking an arbitration hearing with the catcher.
The Rangers acquired Soto from the Cubs on July 30 and released Yorvit Torrealba. Soto played in 47 games for Texas and hit .196 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. He had a .253 on-base percentage and a .338 slugging percentage.
The Rangers now have two catchers on their 40-man roster in Luis Martinez and Konrad Schmidt. Together they have played in just 40 games in their Major League careers.
Texas is still trying to re-sign Napoli and met with him earlier this week in Arlington. But the Red Sox and the Mariners are among the teams pursuing the catcher and there is no guarantee that Napoli will return.
The Rangers are interested in free agent A.J. Pierzynski. They also had interest in Russell Martin, but he agreed to a two-year contract with the Pirates on Thursday.
General manager Jon Daniels, who was unavailable on Friday night, admitted earlier in the week that there is a "limited supply" of catchers available this offseason and the club will continue to consider all options.
The Rangers also non-tendered pitcher Jacob Brigham and infielder Brandon Snyder. Both are expected to re-sign with Texas on Minor League contracts. But these moves leave the Rangers with 36 players on their 40-man roster going into the Winter Meetings.
The Rangers originally traded Brigham to the Cubs for Soto back in July. They re-acquired him earlier this month for pitcher Barrett Loux and a player to be named after Brigham developed a strained elbow while with the Cubs. He made just two starts after the trade before going on the disabled list.
Snyder played in 40 games for the Rangers in 2012, and hit .277 with three home runs and nine RBIs.