Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jays roster speculation 2017 Edition- Who's the back up to Russell, Russell, Russell?

There's change a blowin' in the winds. The Toronto Blue Jays have the most free agents of any MLB team. With only Grilli as a lock, to be picked up via the option, the Blue Jays team you grew to love and cherish in 2016, will look different in 2017.

The Wolf has mentioned that a review of the various player positions may be in order. So let's try this.

The Catcher.

Russell Martin starts the backend portion of his contract, earning 20 million in each of the next 3 years. He turns 34 before the start of the 2017 season and is likely to need some sort of knee surgery to fix his sauna injury. While the MRI, done at the time, indicated  no structural damage, it has been speculated that it has affected his offensive output. While his body is aging, his value is in his brain. There is no doubt that his receiving skills, his game calling, knowledge of his pitchers, make all the Jays pitchers better. Healthy, he's still one of the top catchers in the game today.

Josh Thole will be non-tendered and follow R.A Dickey. That's it. Nothing to see here. Let's move on.

Dioner Navarro is another free agent who made 4 million last year. What makes him interesting, from a Jays point of view, is his familiarity with the pitching staff, he's a switch hitter, Gibby seems to trust him and probably the cost of acquisition will be reasonable.

A.J. Jimenez is out of options. Another "catcher of the future" who hasn't panned out. Something to keep in mind, catching is very complex position. Catchers in general tend to develop later than any other player on the team and with Martin's workload being a topic of discussion, perhaps a younger back up, under Russell's tutelage and mentorship might be a good thing.

Reese McGuire is 21 and was one of the Pirates top 10 prospects when Toronto acquired him in the Liriano trade. Regarded as an excellent defensive catcher he'll probably settle into AA New Hampshire. From what I've read on the Pittsburgh blogs, McGuire is the one that got away and should never have been traded. They're pissed off.

Max Pentacost was regarded as the 10th best catching prospect in baseball, as of January 2015. In February 2015 he underwent shoulder surgery, spent 2015 rehabbing. Because he wasn't cleared to resume his catching, his 2016 was spent DHing, first at Lansing, then was bumped upped to Dunedin. Still a long way off, if he sticks at the catcher position.

So that where it sits. Russell will be the main catcher, most likely with a slightly reduced work load. The back up catcher will either be Jimenez, a catcher acquired by trade or a free agent yet to be signed. And that's when the argument started in the comment section. Who will be the back up catcher to Martin? Keep in mind, the Jays are paying 20 million per year, for the next 3 years for Russell and that means they won't be going long term or hefty price for a back up .