arencibia

The Blue Jays still don’t have an answer at catcher

Lost in the maze of craziness that has been the Toronto Blue Jays offseason has been the cycle of catchers that has passed through Toronto. Seriously, look at this mess.

-JP Arencibia was the starter in 2012 for the team, and looks to be the starter for 2013 as well
-Jeff Mathis was Arencibia's primary backup in 2012, and signed a two-year contract extension in August. The team traded him to Miami three months later
-Yorvit Torrealba was signed to a minor league contract in August, promoted to the majors a week later, and was traded to the Brewers a month later
-Bobby Wilson was claimed off waivers from the Angels in October, was nontendered in November, and signed with the Yankees in December
-John Buck was acquired in the November megadeal between the Blue Jays and Marlins, and was traded to the Mets less than a month later in the RA Dickey trade
-Eli Whiteside was claimed off waivers from the Yankees in December, and was lost on waivers to the Rangers a little over a week later
-Josh Thole was acquired from the Mets in the RA Dickey trade
-Mike Nickeas was acquired from the Mets in the RA Dickey trade
-Travis d'Arnaud was traded to the Mets in the RA Dickey trade

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In the span of four months, the Blue Jays have seen eight catchers come and go, yet the starter remains the same: JP Arencibia, a flawed player with a career .222/.275/.433 line and 2.0 fWAR in 242 games. Over the last two seasons, Arencibia is 25th in fWAR, 23rd in wOBA, and 22nd in wRC+ among all catchers with at least 500 plate appearances. Defensively, he's allowed 140 stolen bases at a 26.3% kill rate, a hair below the league average over the last two seasons of 26.9%. The one positive about Arencibia's performance is that he's made less than $1 milloin over those two years due to his pre-arbitration status, and he won't be eligible for arbitration until next winter either.

However, with the trade of d'Arnaud, Arencibia is the guy for the Blue Jays next season. Toronto's other two major league ready catchers, the newly acquired duo of Thole and Nickeas, are worse than Arencibia both offensively and when it comes to preventing stolen bases, though both have the advantage of experience catching Dickey's knuckleball. 

It's kind of funny. Despite all of the chaos that has gone on with the catching position in Toronto this winter, they're going to be trotting out the same guy that they have over the last two years on an every day basis in 2013. And that option is a flawed, mediocre player that the team hasn't been able to find a suitor for this winter, enabling them to potentially upgrade the position. I guess this is the state of major league catching in 2013: you have a slim elite tier, a slim average tier, and then the rest.

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and a contributing author at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is stuck somewhere between tolerating and hating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports.

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