The Rangers' late-July trade of Jonathan Lucroy to the Rockies allowed A.J. Jimenez to move up a rung on Texas' organizational catching ladder, culminating in a September callup for the 27-year-old. A defensive-minded backstop, Jimenez hasn't recorded a wRC+ above 100 in his past four seasons in the minors and unsurprisingly offered little offensively during his brief stint in the big leagues, recording one hit in 13 plate appearances. The Rangers removed Jimenez from the 40-man roster after the season, likely leaving him to settle for a minor-league contract heading into 2018. Jimenez could earn another look in the majors when injuries thin a team's catching ranks, but his lack of polish as a hitter may permanently relegate him to backup duties.
Jimenez cleared waivers and was offered an outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock on Monday. Now that he's cleared waivers, Jimenez can choose to accept the assignment to Round Rock or become a free agent. The 27-year-old backstop had a lackluster 2017 campaign. Over 51 games with Round Rock he hit .245 with a .673 OPS. Strikeouts were a problem for Jimenez, as he struck out in 45 of his 207 plate appearances.
Jimenez went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Athletics. With the Rangers expected to shut down top catcher Robinson Chirinos (hamstring) for the rest of the season, Jimenez, a September callup, will move up a rung on the depth chart to serve as the top backup to Brett Nicholas for the team's final handful of games. It's expected that Nicholas will be behind the plate Friday and Saturday, but Jimenez could handle catching duties in the season finale Sunday since it's a day game after a night game. The 27-year-old slashed an unremarkable .245/.275/.398 across 207 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock this season.
Jimenez was called up by the Rangers on Friday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. He got a look during spring training, but Jimenez failed to break camp with the big club and went on to post a lackluster .245/.275/.398 line with Triple-A Round Rock. The 27-year-old will likely play sparingly while serving as depth behind Robinson Chirinos and Brett Nicholas at the catcher position.
Jimenez was reassigned to minor-league camp Tuesday. He was beat out by Robinson Chirinos for the backup catcher role, and will open the year providing organizational depth at Triple-A Round Rock.
Jimenez agreed to a minor contract with an invitation to spring training with the Rangers on Friday. The 26-year-old spent the past two seasons with the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate. In 248 plate appearances in 2016, Jimenez slashed .241/.290/.377 while hitting four home runs. He'll most likely serve as organizational catching depth for Texas this season.