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.

To wit:

Three sources told 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.

. . .

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:

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.

Wilner continues:

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.

Comments (108)

  1. Someone on my facebook compared JPA to Nelson cruz. I decided to break down some rates from 2011-2013

    Navarro’s walk rate is 8.3%, cruz is 7.2%, JPA 5.3% to put that in perspective Navarro is considered average, cruz below average to average and JPA awful.

    Next K% Navarro is 15.3%, Cruz is 22.7% and JPA 28.7%. Navarro is considered average-above average, Cruz is below average to poor and JPA is awful.

    Navarro’s OBP is .324, Cruz is .319, JPA .260…Navarro is average to above average, Cruz avg, JPA well below awful.

    Navarro’s wOBA is .325, Cruz .348, JPA .290, Navarro is avg to above avg, cruz is above avg and JPA is awful. Power?

    Navarro’s ISO is .165 which is above avg, Cruz is .226 which is great and JPA is .196 which is above avg.

    In this breakdown Navarro is good. Cruz is good. JPA is terrible. I didnt use one stat. i didnt use counting stats that rely on games played or AB’s or whatever, I used rates over a 3 year period. By all accounts JPA sucks, Cruz is good and Navarro for a catcher is a definite upgrade.

    • But Cruz isn’t good.

      • If you compare him to the rates set up by Fangraphs hes average to good. in those stats compared to the league. I used fangraphs charts. So he may not be “good” but he avg to above average in those categories.

    • That’s all kinds of stupid (both the person who compared Cruz to JPA, and your rebuttal). Cruz, as a corner OF, has to bring a shit ton more to the plate than a catcher.

      • Im not just comparing them to themselves, they are all compared to league averages and rates. So argue Cruz isnt a good corner outfielder sure, but as compared to all hitters he’s generally avg or above average in most of those categories.

    • Cruz would be one of the best in the league if he were putting up those numbers as a catcher. But he’s a corner outfielder with poor defense… so… he’s kind of not very good.

      • It was more to compare Navarro and JPA with someone a guy on facebook threw in as a power only hitter like Cruz. Im not arguing that Cruz is a great player and as I said its compared to the league not themselves, so it all hitters.

  2. Maybe AA is learning and growing a bit as a gm…. sometimes being open is a faster way to get things done than being so tight lipped all the time… lay it on the line and see if anyone calls.

    • If AA was learning as a GM maybe he would have gotten a better catcher than Navarro to be the starting catcher? Just a thought. Still biggest weakness on the team

  3. I doubt they’re going to ask him to play 130 games like JP did. Probably more of a split between him and Thole. Maybe like 110/52?

    • I agree – 100/60 or somewhere in that range seems reasonable.

      Here’s hoping Thole can produce more like his pre-2013 numbers than just his 2013 numbers.

      • 2012 was bad too, but the two years prior he hit RHP really well (for a catcher).

      • Might have been Jeff Blair, but I definitely heard someone like that saying that his understanding was that they actually kind of liked Thole and think he’s better than the numbers showed last year. I’d buy that.

        • Pre-concussion Thole was a good hitter. Let’s hope he gets back to that level.

        • So would I. He put up some really good numbers from 2009-2011 (.315 wOBA, including .328 against righties) and, if I remember correctly, at the time of the trade there was talk that his struggles in 2012 were at least partly due to concussion problems. I had hope for a bounceback then and, even though he was kind of useless in 2013, I still have hope for 2014.

        • @Stoeten: Then why the fuck didn’t they play him more

    • That’s kind of what I’m thinking… Thole will catch Dickey games and games against #4/5 RHP with Navarro getting the remainder.

  4. Navarro is just as bad as JP defensively, jays are really hoping he’s what the cubs had last season. Get ready for the remaining money the Jays have to spend for a JP for Brett Anderson swap with he Jays having to cover Brett Anderson salary. Can’t wait until Anderson doesn’t throw a single pitch for the Jays as he gets hurt in spring training and JP thrives in backup role in Oakland. Last place in Al East again here we come.

  5. I predict a bag of balls being FedExed to Rogers Centre sometime later today…

  6. He may not be the greatest catcher out there, but even if that’s a scratch, I’ll take a Navarro walk over a rally-killing JP strikeout any day.

    • Between the rally killing strikeouts and the rally killing HRs JPA sure did kill a lot of rallies…..

  7. This post could have just been this final paragraph – and I would have been satisfied:

    “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.”

  8. Navarro isn’t our catcher of the future and will be serviceable enough for two years or cheap enough to buy out if not.

    The Jays needed a catcher before cutting ties outright with JP or the goons would’ve been up in arms about the direction the club is going.

    Safe band-aid move.

  9. thank goodness i dont have to watch JP in a BJ uniform come to bat with runners on and 2 out ever again… at least this guy can walk, and hits switch.

  10. If he is traded its got to be for future considerations or cash no?

  11. I’m no JP fan and I am tickled at todays events – that being said….

    It’s tough to replace someone after their worst season with someone after their best season.

    You just never know what the stats of both of them might look like come August next year.

    • agree completely

      • True, but 36 k’s in 240 abats. And he has a track record of not striking out that is longer than J.P.’s track record of striking out. Plus he can take walks, oppose to a guy who recently said that he was willing to take walks out of his game this upcoming spring training. One could also make an arguement that 2008 was his best year, being he had 200 more abats. The OPS was down a little, and he had 6 less homers, but 20 more doubles, which was probably a sign of developing power. If he is the same guy behind the plate as J.P., his habits with the bat make him 3x the player J.P. was, or will ever be.

        If I was J.P., I’d put down the bat and pick up a golf club. You never know, he could become a long drive champion someday. He’s already use to swinging at balls just an inch or so off the ground.

  12. somewhat missed in all of this is blocking balls and pitch framing are things Sal Fasano and coaches can teach and we’ve seen improve with guys like Buck, JP et al. So it’s not completely unreasonable to think that the things he’s got a reputation for not doing well can’t be improved upon.

  13. My dream would be for JP to be traded for International Bonus Pool money from some team who doesn’t like to spend in Latin America. But unfortunately he’s probably not worth as much as a ficticious 300 thousand dollar figure to be spent on a 16 year old. Strange world.

  14. JP to the Philiies plz

  15. If he gets non-tendered his arbitration rights go out the window no? If someone wanted him they could just sign him for league minimum after he’s a free agent. There’s enough there for someone to take a flyer on him but probably not 2 million plus flyer

    • ayup.

    • Only way I can see someone trading for him is if AA convinces an interested team that there are multiple teams interested in JP and that his price as a free agent might bump close to what his arb reward would be anyway. Considering how little it would take to acquire him today it COULD happen, but unlikely

  16. Hoping we can swing for Brett Anderson somehow. I know he’s a big injury risk but look at the groundball rates the guy has. Would play a lot better in Rogers Centre then the Coliseum.

    • He hasnt pitched over 100 innings in the last 2 years and in the last 3 years has pitched 162. There’s injury risks and there’s INJURY risks.

  17. “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.” I can’t imagine this factored in to the decision at all. Presumably, he just thinks Navarro is better. I’m not sure what “frothing masses” you are referring to, but I’m fairly certain the average Jays fan wouldn’t bat an eye at JP back in uniform this season. Yourself and the types that follow this blog (not sure you can say we are “masses”) would be the ones most likely to lose it.

    “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.” Good point, seems like the most logical explanation to me. They KNOW they don’t want JP back and after finding out other teams have little interest either, they calculate they can get more value by negotiating a better deal with Navarro by still having JP as an “out” than they could ever hope to get back for him in any trade. Sad as that is.

  18. If JP Arencibia went to arbitration, here is his argument.

  19. Zuan on the Fan right now….
    Likes Dioner — thinks he will come here wanting to re-cement his status as a starting catcher.

  20. *Zaun

  21. the club has 4 positions at which it needs to either “fill holes” or “take a shot”. They have to decide on the mix. If they decided to “fill a hole” at catcher and spend elsewhere, then Navarro definitely bring the position up to average, if nothing more. I don’t think we can debate until we see the whole strategy play out.

  22. In over 1100 more PAs, Navarro has struck out 58 fewer times than JPA.

  23. And same number of career passed balls in spite of Dioner having more than 2394 more career innings than JPA.

  24. Navarro is an upgrade on 2013 Arencibia and his deal is reasonable, but can he really be relied upon as a 100+ game MLB starting C? I would say no. It likely will mean more Thole than anybody wants to see.

    The Jays ended up going really cheap to upgrade the catcher spot. Hope that means they’ve allocated much more money for elsewhere on the roster because this is a pretty underwhelming start to this offseason.

    • We should try to remember that this may not have exactly been “Plan A” in the catching department. And that Navarro was considered a top 3 or 4 catcher on the FA market. Yeah they went cheap and yeah they missed out on getting a huge upgrade… but they may not have had much choice.

      • This is just personal opinion, but I’d rather have a Navarro behind the plate and the Jays (hopefully) obtain a great pitcher, rather than sign a McCann and the Jays stick with status quo in regards to the rotation. It would be nice to have the best of both worlds, but let’s face it. With the turf, I can’t see the Jays signing any big-ticket free agents.

        • In regards to signing free agents – wasn’t Navarro garza’s personal cathcher

    • This strikes me more as a very smart start to the season. Do you have any idea what Navarro has to do to justify a $3 million contract in 2013? Hint: it’s not very much.

      It’s a cheap, low-risk high-reward upgrade that leaves money to spend elsewhere.

      Or, you know, they could have spend $10 million a year on a long term deal for Saltalamacchia.

      • Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the contract. He likely won’t have a problem being valuable enough to make it worth it. But is Dioner Navarro really the guy you want to rely on as a starting C in a supposed contending season?

      • I also suspect I’d like the deal a bit better if they had somebody better than Thole (a black hole offensively in his own right) to split time with him. If this gives them the flexibility to make other significant upgrades at their problem spots, though, it looks much better.

        • Obviously the season has to play out, but if you can get Navarro and, say, Infante as your C/2B options for $13-15 million, isn’t that a good deal if the alternative is paying someone like Saltalamacchia and having to stick with Goins at second?

          I like the Navarro signing, and I don’t think it’s fair to say he “can’t” handle 100+ games. He’s done it three times in the past, played in 89 this year, and the primary reason he didn’t get much playing time the last two years is because he was behind guys having really good seasons. I would be quite happy with the Jays going into 2014 with a 2:1 split for Navarro and Thole.

  25. Weird gamesmanship possibility here: the Jays are floating this to get it across to Arencibia that he is not worth 2.8M and want him to agree to coming back and rebuilding value on a minor league deal.

    Yeah, probably not.

  26. Sliders. Low and away.

  27. Trade JP for a load of bats…

  28. Fair to say JPA’s next team won’t have a bobblehead day for him

  29. Are we now leaderless?

  30. For what it’s worth, Buck Martinez told Jeff Blair today that he sees Navarro as a back up and it’s only December 2. More catching shoes to drop?

    • I have to think he’s right, at least if the Jays consider themselves contenders next year. Having said that, it is an upgrade

      • Jaso kills righties and is horrible against lefties, so that’s probably the type of player the Jays would be looking for if they want to continue to upgrade the position.

        Still, though, someone has to catch Dickey. I think they’re done at catcher.

  31. Disappointing article on BJ Plus. If we’re throwing catcher defensive metrics to the side and relying on eye test, how can you say Arencibia’s not a piece of shit behind the plate? This right after stating that Navarro has thrown out a slightly higher percentage of SB attempts?

  32. FWIW Re: Navarro calling games, here’s an interview where Samardzija discusses their pre-game preparation and Navarro addresses his approach to calling a game. (got to 2:30).

  33. Why would you trade for Arencibia now?

    If you trade for him now, we can fairly safely assume you’re going to tender him, or else the trade would have been worthless. If you wait until the Jays non-tender him, you can then sign Arencibia yourself, presumably at a lower cost, without giving up whatever C prospect the Jays were asking in return.

    The only reason you would trade for him now is the fear that some other team is going to beat you to Arencibia; and that’s a stretch because that assumes there would be at least two teams interested in Arencibia. If there were two teams interested in Arencibia, then he would have been traded before the Jays signed Navarro, because obviously such a move was going to kill the Jays’ trade leverage.

    So basically, Arencibia is getting non-tendered.

    • But you could also argue trading JP first was going to raise Navarro’s salary expectations, as you are more desperate for a catcher.

      I doubt it myself.

    • Bullshit. For the league minimum a tonne of teams would take a shot at turning around JPA.

      His power is pretty special from the C position. I think we all forget that because he does everything else so poorly.

      • That’s exactly the point–you can’t pay him the league minimum unless the Jays non-tender him.

      • JP will have offers from multiple teams if non tendered, some team will try to turn him around. his power will at least land him backup catching gigs for a few years at least even if he doesn’t turn it around.

        • Nope jays are done all deals before the winter meetings. AA even cancelled his flight plans and said fuck it.

          • and this was response to your other comment about hoping the jays arent finished this

          • One, you don’t actually know whether AA cancelled his flight plans and said fuck it or not; Two, your first sentence isn’t even grammatically correct; Three, the Navarro deal, coming after the winter meetings, disproves your statement.

            We’ve already heard from AA that he has certain moves on the table, and is simply waiting for the market to shake out. Some of the market has already begun to move, but we still have more to come.

            There’s intelligent disagreement, and then there’s stupid negativity.

            • shut up you fuckrtard, i wasn’t being serious. The guy was saying he hopes AA makes more moves. Its not even directed to you. 1 I was responding to What?. 2. The winter meetings didn’t happen yet, they’re a week away..the GM meetings were last fuck off. 3 I was be sarcastic and not negative asshole. Move on dun dun…and I don’t give a shit what you think about my grammar so fuck off. And did I mention fuck off? jesus What? took it better and explained himself better, which he didnt have to do and could have told me to fuck off too and I could handle that, i was being a sarcastic dick..but you canard? Fuck off lol

          • I know AA is going to try to make more moves but there’s a difference between talking to other teams/and free agents about upgrading than there is getting a deal done. This move could be his last in terms of big league roster. I’ve only ever heard the Jays have about 8-10 million to spend this offseason and if Navarro is your starting Catcher same as if it was JP the Jays need to not try to make more moves to contend. This move solves a problem in theory but Navarro is not a all a certainty of repeating his 2013 season

    • Because if you wait until he’s non-tendered then there’s a decent chance that other teams try the same thing and risk him signing elsewhere.

      • Is a team willing to pay Arencibia a salary that could approach $2 million more than the minimum in order to get him before someone else does?

  34. Navarro is an upgrade for sure, but not a contending teams starting catcher. If Navarro is in the starting lineup Izzy and Goins cant be your starting second basemen. Unless Navarro offense in 2013 is for reals and continues in 14

    • But I hope the jays aren’t completely banking on his 2013 and have more moves to make. They need to if they really want to contend

    • Yeah, because AJ Ellis, Ryan Hanigan, Kurt Suzuki/Stephen Vogt, Chris Stewart and Jose Lobaton/Jose Molina are all superstars. And thank goodness Minnesota had Mauer, Houston had Castro, Colorado had Rosario and the Giants had Posey.. made them in to instant contenders!

      • There’s a difference between having a superstar catcher and nothing else. You must know enough about baseball to not even use NL teams as comparison. You need an all star at almost every position to win in the AL Beast.

        Yeah if Navorro is your starting Same as if it was JP you need more than Goins at second. Only way I’d take goins starting at second to think this team could contend is if Buster Posey was our everyday Catcher.

  35. Jays just got a C that OPSd .857 last year for a contract that needs less than 1 WAR annually to justify.

    Outlier year, SSS and defensive issues be damned. I’ll take that bet.

    • What might be really shitty is that they’re paying for his performance in 2014 and 2015, not 2013.

      • But they’re only paying him to put up about 0.5WAR per year.

        I’m not saying he’s the greatest catcher in the world. I’m just saying he being paid to be barely above replacement level (which is way above JPA level)…

  36. Navarro caught Garza and Samardzija last year. Any chance AA is working on getting them both?

    If Garza did make the comment about preferring to pitch to Navarro, could this move influence his decision to sign with the Jays?

  37. Garza and Samardzija

    Those pitchers would look good in Blue and White.

  38. This pick up is overall a good one but leaves its controversy. As Wilner put it offensively he may have sustainable production; but defensively he seems to be a bit of a liability. Don;t know if this will fare well for the Jays! Regardless it sounds like JPA is going to be non-tendered so hes on his way out if they can’t trade him. Hope to hear big news on getting something for him in return, he makes too much to be a backup and Thole can already handle RA’s knuckler. This post may shed some light on the situation:

  39. Steamer, FWIW, projects Navarro and Salty to put up identical WAR/PA.

  40. Solid move. No long term commitment. If something comes up for another teams #1 then maybe there is another move. no way JPA could return. He was epic bad at the plate. If he hadn’t hit those 20 balls well it would be a “where are they now” future for him. Baseball is like no other sport, JPA will have many suitors and Toronto teams are kind of cursed so he will probably come back to ream us bad. At least we still haven’t sent any more prospects packing.

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