Hank Conger

Late last night, while some of us were too busy Jagging off to have noticed, Bob Elliott wrote in the Toronto Sun… well… this:

Toronto has targeted either Chris Iannetta or Hank Conger, according to those familiar with the Jays’ plans.

Those, of course, would be the Angels’ two catchers, and… well… of course they have.

The reason Jays fans have been so enamoured with Howie Kendrick, of course, is that the Angels sure look like they could use relief help or the kinds of back-end starters that the Jays are flush with. The same considerations apply here, though they’d do so a little differently depending on which of Anaheim’s catchers they may be looking at.

Conger, a switch hitter, is cheaper, younger, and under team control for longer– he made about the league minimum this year, turns just 26 in January, and won’t hit free agency until after the 2017 season. He’s also not had a tonne of success at the plate in his short big league career, though 2013 was the best the Angels had seen of him, posting a .249/.310/.403 line over 92 games. Not great, but– even with that low an on-base and a strikeout rate over 20%– an obvious improvement over what the Jays have, plus, his defensive prowess has reportedly grown over his years in the big leagues.

The right-handed Iannetta, on the other hand, will be 31 in April, and is owed $10.5-million over the next two years. He is, however, kinda really good. This year his walk rate, over 399 at-bats, was over 17%, which drove his .225/.358/.372 line. That was good for a park- and league-adjusted wRC+ of 111, which ranked him seventh among AL catchers with at least 250 plate appearances– Conger (99) was tenth, while J.P. Arencibia (57) was last, or 18th. He’s also well liked defensively, though neither of the two appear to be elite.

Still, though, the Jays obviously don’t need to pull a Yan Gomes out of their ass [note: fucking ugh] in order to upgrade majorly at the position. Uh… yeah, then. Figure it out.

So there’s that.

Comments (88)

  1. Go for Conger. Cheaper and probably won’t cost as much prospect wise.

  2. Said this in the other thread but if the Jose trade rumours mold with this rumour and Jose brings back Kendrick and a catcher then thats a big loss for AA. That he is forced into doing that to pick up a decent catcher is his own fault for having no other options but JP to play everyday.

  3. I’d prefer Ianetta, the money isn’t that steep.

  4. People don’t realize that an average catcher in production will be a huge upgrade from jp

  5. This is the great thing about finding an upgrade for JP.

    You can’t go wrong…… SOOOOO MANY OPTIONS!

    • ^^^^^

      Any replacement over a guy who just missed out on being the worst offensive catcher of all time is an upgrade.

  6. Iannetta is a big decline candidate. The defensive side has already started to go -7 DRS, horrible pitch framing numbers (worse than JPA in 2011), dropped well below the league average in caught stealing numbers. The rising K-Rates, struggled with righties for the first time in his career and everyone knows he won’t have a 17% BB rate in Toronto.

  7. They’re both shitty. Get Chooch, he’ll only cost money. Save the relievers for a package for an impact bat or starting pitcher.

    And Conger is a poor defensive catcher, I don’t care what the metrics say.

    I’d much rather a really good defensive catcher who calls a good game and has no bat then either of these two monkeys who are mediocre at both hitting and catching.

    • Yeah. I don’t know why AA likes the trade route. He would have been, for example, much better off just signing Reyes et al. It would have been cheaper (from the point of view that they picked up the “poison pill” years from the Marlins) and they would still have the prospects. Of course, they have to convince the free agents to come… but still. Trades are good only for young, controllable players, not guys who are owed a lot of money.

      • In theory, guys like Reyes and Behurle would have had negative utility coming from the Marlins because they lost their first year of value. The Blue Jays really took on a ton of salary to get that one year of Josh Johnson.

        Glad we did that….

    • I wouldn’t say Ruiz has “no bat.” Sure, the guy is 35 and will have declining numbers, but he has a career OBP over .350. A good defensive catcher at the bottom of your line-up who can draw walks and get on base at a pretty good rate for the bats at the top of your line-up? I say “yes” as long as the money isn’t ridiculous.

  8. Given the incumbent, I believe the Blue Jays are interested in every other team’s catchers. At least they should be.

    • He want’s to rebuild his value, and doubt he looks to try to do it in the AL east. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

  9. And so the silly season begins.
    Yesterday the rumour was oft injured pitcher Brett Anderson.
    Just what we need. Someone to keep Morrow and JJ company on the DL.

    Today, its Conger: supposedly a bat first catcher (who has not shown much of a bat)
    but who has been a bit of a liability defensively.
    And Iannetta, an average to below average catcher who is on the wrong side of 30,
    and, as Roster Management points out, is a candidate for decline.

    Sorry, not buying any of it.

  10. How about Conger with Molina backing up and JP in AAA?

  11. Just man up and pay Brian Mccann.

    Give him a blank cheque. The window is now.

  12. How about Nick Hundley? Slightly under league average bat with superb defense. Padres have Yasami Grandal (when fit) so Hundley should be available for a reasonable price.

    • I think they also have a top notch catching prospect (Hedges?) in the minors so yeah, Hundley seems like a good guy to target.

  13. .225/.358/.372 was good for a wRC+ of 111?

    Welcome to the post-steroid era, everyone!

  14. I just looked at Yan Gomes baseball reference page and almost puked on my computer

  15. I would imagine every catcher in MLB is of interest to the blue jays. They do seem to be linked to the angels a lot and I would love to see howie Kendrick at 2B but I’m not head over heals for either of these catchers but iannetta would be the preference here.

  16. Paying all the extra money to Ianetta for marginally better production than Conger makes no sense especially given their respective ages. What you have to pay for each factors in too, but Conger is a more valuable piece at this point, I think.

    • Agreed

    • Except you have no idea if Conger would give you slightly else production or pull an Arencibia imitation. We’re talking about a 26 year old with a mediocre PCL track record and an OK half season under his belt. What you’re paying for with Iannetta is stability. This team needs stability. Desperately.

      • It really just needs a good season out of somebody, more than stability. But I do agree that Iannetta is preferable, because “all that money” really isn’t much, and he’s been quite a bit better.

  17. Man,

    Darrin Fletcher’s 4 seasons in Toronto in the Late 90′s / Early 2000′s look Hall of Fame esque when when you consider what JP has done the last couple of years!

  18. FWIW there were rumblings a few months ago that the Angels would look to deal Iannetta.

    Also, remember those weird Snider for Iannetta trade rumours at the deadline a few years ago?

  19. Use cash. Sign both Ruiz and Jose Molina. Start Ruiz gor 100, Molina the rest.

  20. I’m a Ryan Hanigan fan. Great D, OBP and an off-year (injuries) to help buy-low.

  21. I like Hanigan too.

    Also, dont mind the Nick Hundley comment above. Go for it!

    • Is Hundley on the market? Also, I’m not sure I’d want another frustratingly low OBP guy for catcher.

      • Nick Hundley fucking sucks. A career .686 ops? if he is a good defensive catcher i’d take him but i wouldn’t give up much if anything to bring him in. Especially if he is set to make $4mil next year. U could get the same offensive production from Conger for 500k.

        • His bat isn’t great, career and last year were about 90wRC+ but that was league average for catchers last year (he ranks 22nd out of 32 catchers with 300+ PA).

          Factor in his excellent defense (6th out of the same group of 32 catchers last year) that he has shown every single year and he’s a valuable catcher.

          Combine that with the fact that he’s not going to cost all that much and Padres would likely sell him with their existing depth at catcher and you have a cheap piece that provides value.

          He’s not going to be an all-star but you don’t need that – all you need is 5 or 6 great players and the rest to be OK – he’s certainly good enough for that model.

          • Like I said if we can get him for next to nothing then I’m all for it. 13 HR in San Diego’s huge ball park might translate to closer to 20 in Rogers Center (though he is a ground ball hitter).

            I just think i’d rather have conger because he’s under control longer and is cheaper. But if we can get Hundley for next to nothing…why not get both Conger and Hundley?

  22. Whatever happened to, “if you’re hearing rumours, they’re probably untrue because AA is a stealthy Greek ninja?”

  23. FYI Sportsnet has game 6 of 1993 on right now (needed programming), it’s the 9th inning with Tom’s call. Joe’s 3 batters away.

    • Nothing against you, Sharkey. But if I have to hear any more about the Glory Jays I’ll throw up. We are drowning in yesterday around here. (And if I have to hear any more about getting Doc back I’ll throw up even more.)

  24. Rogers has cash. Lots of cash.

    Trade Dickey Thole JP Melky Searri plus 15 mil Cash for Ryan Braun Kyle Loske Jonathan Lucroy.

    Once the deal is done, cancel Braun’s extenstion since he obtained it in bad faith.
    Braun was jucin when he obtained that extension so getting it reduced by 40 mil or cancelled all together is simple.

    Then trade Mark Loske Happ plus 50 mil Cash for Chris Sale.

    Trade Gose and cash for David Price.

    Boni being given to KC down the stretch was the beginning of getting Jamie Shields, so add some more cash or parts for Shields.

    Sign Doc and AJ or Garza and plan the parade

    • You spend other peoples money very well. Also I don’t see the rays giving up price for that. They got more for shields and price is way better. Just a thought.

      • Yes and no.

        Most of the cash I suggest is just paying for Mark’s contract.

        Sale doesn’t make big cash yet so the saving would be a pay back for the cash handed to the white sox.

        Jonathan Lucroy is a top catcher in the league and makes little money for the next few years.

        Brewers wanna dump Braun, so heres a chance to strike and solve both the catcher and and left fielder issue.

        Tampa is cash hungry and Tampa got no cash from KC in the Shields deal.

        Now they would have Gose and the other young guy.

        Two-thirds of the outfiled and costings less than 1 m a year.

        By paying cash out up front Jays could have a star studded roster for less than 100m.

        Jays bid on Yu and now claim they will be bidding on Tanaka, so they have cash to spend.

        Moreover, forget Cano, as I mention in another thread, and trade izzy plus cash to Houston for Jose Altuve.

        If the Jays are going to spend money they need to do it now before the new Rogers CEO comes on board in Janaury.

    • Lol. this is MLB baseball, not Mr. Burns softball team.

  25. A couple little Jays tidbits in this Carfado article from Sunday. (They’re going to spend and try to get two starters, may bring back Johnson, will look at Brandon Phillips). But also awesome speculation about Montreal being seen as a legitimate landing spot for the Rays if they can finance a stadium. I’m sure it’s a massive longshot, but IMAGINE a Montreal MLB team in the AL East. That would be absolutely awesome.

    • @JP.

      I think the Expos need to find a location in Montreal, perhaps the old Blue Bonets/Hippodrome race track as a good spot. It is near the subway & many of the expos season ticket holders . Once they get a stadium construction under way then the team could bid for the Rays.

      • I’d love to see a team back in Montreal, where I grew up watching games, but i just don’t see it happening. They were drawing like a 1000 people to home games 10 years ago.

      • The Hippodrome would have been a great spot, right on the Metro at Namur and really close to my family so it wouldn’t be a long commute from whichever uncle or cousin I was staying with. Unfortunately for baseball fans in Montreal, I’m fairly certain that site is being used for condos and other real estate things eventually. Now things could have changed and I could be wrong since I don’t live in Montreal, but from everything I’ve heard from my family it’s all been sold to real estate.

    • That would be fun. Though I imagine if it happened, the Montreal team would flip to the NL East, and probably the Marlins would flip to the ALE.

      But having Toronto and Montreal in the same division would be fun.

  26. They don’t need to catch Angel’s. They need to catch some good karma.

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