Geovany Soto isn't yet a member of the White Sox's 40-man roster after signing a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, but you can pretty much pencil him in the 25-man roster as long as he makes it out of Camelback Ranch in one piece.
The 32-year-old Soto might not be the catcher he was with the Cubs in his 20s, but he's a clear cut above the current glut of candidates that includes Rob Brantly, George Kottaras, Kevan Smith and Adrian Nieto. He hit .247/.320/.432 over 271 plate appearances as a backup for the Rangers and Athletics the last two seasons, and that level of performance should close the door on the idea of an honest-to-goodness spring training battle.
That said, the competition should still be on alert, because Soto has a history of making a third catcher critical. His 2012 and 2014 seasons were abbreviated by torn menisci, and last year's injury occurred during spring training. He missed the entire first half, and only played 10 games for the Rangers before they traded him to Oakland in late August. He hit .262/.354/.357 over 49 plate appearances with the A's, earning Bob Melvin's trust enough to warrant a start in the wild card game, which he exited early with a thumb injury.
Chris Cotillo was surprised that Soto didn't earn a guaranteed contract from a team, but it practically is. The deal just buys the Sox some time to clear room on the 40-man roster, perhaps waiting to place Nate Jones on the 60-day disabled list. Soto just has to make sure he doesn't end up on the DL himself.
We'll break down the crop of 24 non-roster invitees -- including Jesse Crain! -- later on.