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Orioles agree to minor league deal with J.P. Arencibia

J.P. Arencibia
(USA TODAY Sports photo)

Adding another catcher to their growing list for spring training, the Orioles have finalized a minor league deal with J.P. Arencibia. He will get an invite to spring training.

The 29-year-old Arencibia was once a Top 50 prospect after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Tennessee, but he has failed to hit for average in his big league career.

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In parts of five major league seasons, the right-handed hitter has batted .207 and has struck out 462 times in 1,502 major league at-bats. But his power is undeniable; he has 74 career homers including 21 in 474 at-bats for the Blue Jays in 2013.

And he'll have a familiar instructor when spring training begins. Arencibia spent all of 2014 in the Texas Rangers system, batting .177 with 10 homers in 63 games in the majors. After hitting just .133 with the Rangers to start the season, he was sent to Triple-A Round Rock in May. The Rangers' minor league hitting coordinator at the time was Scott Coolbaugh, who was hired this winter as the Orioles' new big-league hitting coach.

While in the minors last year, Arencibia found  his stroke, hitting .279 with 14 homers in 49 games and earned a return to the Rangers He hit five homers and batted .255 in 13 July games and, after struggling in August, he hit .250 in September. Overall in the second half, he hit .196 with nine homers in 42 games after batting .133 with one homer in 20 first half games.

Arencibia also played some first base and served as the designated hitter for the Rangers in 2014. His defensive skills at catcher have been maligned at times, but he has a 26 percent success rate in throwing out runners, which is considered about league average.

He also has done well at Camden Yards, hitting .304 with a .338 on-base percentage, .565 slugging percentage, four homers and 18 RBIs in 69 at-bats there.

The Orioles already have five catchers on their 40-man roster: Matt Wieters, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway, Steve Clevenger and minor leaguer Michael Ohlman. But Arencibia has more major league time than any of those besides Wieters.

The club has to make a 40-man roster move today to make room for the inclusion of re-signed designated hitter Delmon Young. Lavarnway is a leading candidate to be removed from the roster to make room for Young. Lavarnway has been designated three other times by three different teams this offseason.

Arencibia is married to Kimberly Perry, part of the popular country music group, "The Band Perry."

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