This would seem to make perfect sense given the Jays’ signing of Dioner Navarro today, but just to be all official-like, according to the latest from Rogers Centre on the Rogers-owned Blue Jays from Shi Davidi of the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet, the club’s newest signing will, indeed, be their starting catcher in 2014. Further to that, his addition to the roster means the end of the J.P. Arencibia era– officially now, as well.
Three sources told sportsnet.ca that general manager Alex Anthopoulos will non-tender the 27-year-old ahead of Monday’s midnight deadline if a trade partner doesn’t emerge.
The possibility of that happening wasn’t clear, as interest in Arencibia was described by one source as minimal, although a suitor might try to snag him before he hits free agency.
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Navarro, once he passes a physical, will take over the starting duties with Josh Thole serving as the backup and primarily handling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Prospect A.J. Jimenez, recovering from a nerve issue in his surgically repaired right elbow, should be fine for spring training and right now is the insurance behind that duo.
It’s maybe a bit strange that the club would so openly announce their intentions with Arencibia, but surely that speaks to the limited market there is for him– or maybe just the fact that other clubs knew as well as we did that there was no way the situation could continue with him on the roster.
As I noted in this morning’s post, it’s hardly a stretch to think that Arencibia could have earned the $8-million the club is now paying Navarro had he stayed and gone through the arbitration process (dingers!) another two times, meaning you can almost view the move as a straight swap– and Jon Heyman tweets that the deal will pay Navarro $3-million this year, and $5-million next year, making it all the more like one.
Some might not like it as even that, though. Steve McEwen of Blue Jays Plus quite casually tosses aside defensive metrics for catchers (perhaps fairly), declares Arencibia a better defender than we think (OK?), says it’s foolish to consider Navarro an upgrade, and chastises the notion of killing Arencibia’s trade value this way. I came close to saying some of that in my piece this morning, I guess, but I think it mostly misses the point– especially when it comes to trade value end of things.
It’s a slightly dangerous way for a GM to think, but the P.R. risk Anthopoulos would have assumed by not making a change here was pretty significant. Not that he should be worried about that stuff too much, but holy piss, can you imagine what another fucking Groundhog Day year of Arencibia would have done to the frothing masses? Keeping him would have been tantamount to Alex handing the fans and media a weapon then kneeling down waiting to be bashed over the head with it. Sure, there’s more talent in there than we saw this year, but three seasons of invisible, or at the very least, too-little improvement seems to me to be fucking plenty– especially when you can bring in an option with a few more positives, and much better recent past, on what’s essentially a cash-neutral deal.
None of that means that the club had to do it this way, but following that line of thinking, you trade him, you non-tender him, who really cares? He didn’t have enough value to get anybody to offer anything at this point anyway, right? I mean, I’m not for devaluing assets, but I think we need to be a little bit realistic here– who would Alex be kidding if he tried to pretend he was willing to go ahead with Arencibia next year, especially with the whole world knowing he’s been calling all over the place on catchers? Shit, maybe it worked the other way– maybe the Jays had yet to make a move with Arencibia in order to have some leverage in talking to Navarro. Plus, there is still potentially value to another club in making a trade, assuming they like Arencibia enough and they don’t want to see him hit the open market, giving him the ability to choose the most favourable situation for himself available.
That said, uh… it’s hard to see any kind of return for him being much. He was brutal! And, sorry, the .282 OBP high water mark he posted prior to his two putrid last seasons isn’t exactly a whole lot to be pining for.
On the Navarro side of things, the Jays, naturally, are seeing the positive in their new signing:
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) December 2, 2013
I’m not comfortable commenting on game calling skills, because I don’t think we really know enough about who is doing what there, but if I was I’d be pretty sure that two of those four statements are things that wouldn’t be said about Arencibia, and that to me is a plus.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) December 2, 2013
If that’s true, that’s why they pay a billion scouts, I suppose. But obviously they’re going to say a thing like that. I’m not sure, but let’s hope they’re right.
Let’s also hope that the club is right by believing that Navarro can handle the workload. One thing that’s buoying about it is the fact that he’s played so few games in the last several seasons– 91, 69, 86, and 89 over the last four years, combined at both the Major and minor league levels– isn’t necessarily indicative of his health. Sure, he’s been banged up a lot, but the injury history on his Baseball Prospectus page shows just three big league DL trips in his entire career– one in 2006, another in 2008, and another in 2011.
Of course, that data is somewhat incomplete because he’s spent so much time in the minors, which… uh… doesn’t necessarily bode so well, does it?
Still, though, J.P.A. he ain’t. I’ll continue to take that, thanks. And if Anthopoulos can actually turn Arencibia into some kind of asset by midnight, that’s an even bigger win.