Four catchers will be on the Rangers’ active roster to start the “second half” of the season after the All-Star break this weekend.
Geovany Soto has been activated from the 60-day disabled list and J.P. Arencibia’s contract was purchased from Triple-A Round Rock.
The move that brings a quartet of catchers to Arlington further complicates the Rangers’ quest for a first baseman, as Carlos Peña was designated for assignment to make room on the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Robinson Chirinos, whose 488 innings at catcher fall just short of qualifying for league leaders, would be atop the American League in caught stealing percentage at 45.1 percent and has earned the bulk of time behind the plate. He’s also batting .238 with the Rangers’ second-highest home run total (nine) at a position that has lacked offense since the departure of Mike Napoli after the 2012 season.
In Peña’s absence, there isn’t a true first baseman on the Rangers’ roster. Arencibia, who was optioned to Round Rock on May 20 after batting just .133 in 20 games with Texas, is the leading candidate to receive innings at first.
Arencibia started 20 games at first base at Triple A. He has posted a .279 average and 14 homers in 48 games in the minors.
Chris Gimenez has made two appearances at first base in July, but has just one hit in his last 18 plate appearances and his average has fallen to .261 with more consistent playing time.
Soto has missed all of the 2014 season after suffering torn lateral meniscus cartilage in his right knee during a spring training game on March 23 and having surgery on March 26, and could be the odd man out. He has never played any position other than catcher at the major league level, with the exception of one inning at third base on June 4 of last year.
On a depleted team, there is still the chance that three of the four catchers on the active roster see playing time on a given night, with one at catcher, first base and designated hitter. However, Shin-Soo Choo’s bum ankle and defensive inadequacy have pushed him into the designated hitter role more often than the club intended when it signed Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract in December.
Jim Adduci, who is recovering from a injury to his pinkie finger, has done work at first base and is getting closer to a return to Arlington. Utility man Adam Rosales has made two appearances at first this season as well.
Arencibia and Soto will be in uniform this weekend against Arencibia’s former team, the Toronto Blue Jays.