Avila, Rivera, among Backup Catcher Options the Blue Jays have within Free Agent Market
Over the last few seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have had more than there fair share of backup catchers. From fan favourite Dioner Navarro to R.A. Dickey’s assistant Josh Thole, and then to the player with the longest last name in baseball Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Last season, the Blue Jays used C Luke Maile and C Miguel Montero for most of the season to backup starting C Russell Martin. Now, Montero is a free agent and Maile is still on the roster. However, the free agent market has a few backup catchers that the Blue Jays could look into if they decide to release or take Maile off the roster.
Like the outfield position, the Blue Jays have quite a few catching prospects that are very close to making their MLB debut. With players like Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Max Pentecost, it’s hard not to get excited about the future of the catching position for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, if the 2018 season were to start today, the Blue Jays would not have a legitimate backup catcher.
Luckily for the Jays, this free agent market has a few options for the Jays to choose from.
C, Alex Avila — Detroit Tigers & Chicago Cubs
2017 Salary: $2 million
Games Played: 112
Stats: .264/.387/.447 with 14 HR in 376 plate appearances
Wins Above Replacement: 2.7
Avila is coming off a fantastic 2017 season, his best since his all-star season in 2011. Avila has proven that he is a reliable left-handed bat, with strong plate discipline, and the kind of catcher who works well with pitching staff. Avila signing with the Jays sounds like a perfect match! In a recent interview with MLB Network Radio, Avila was asked about what kind of team he’d like to sign with. Here’s what he had to say:
“The number one thing is having an oppurtunity to get to the playoffs. I’ve told teams this, my agent this. I have no issue going to a team and being a backup, I have no issue being a platoon player, I have no issue going to a team and being a starter. For me, it’s about the oppurtunity to win. That’s the way I look at it.”
C, Rene Rivera- New York Mets & Chicago Cubs
2017 Salary: $1.75 million
Games Played: 74
Stats: .252./305/.431 with 10 HR in 237 plate appearances
Wins Above Replacement: 0.1
Rene Rivera is a catcher that is well-known for his pitch framing. Last season, Rivera caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average). The Rangers have been linked to Rivera since the beginning of the off-season, but it does not seem like they are serious on signing him.
C, Carlos Ruiz- Seattle Mariners
2017 Salary: $8.7 million
Games Played: 54
Stats: .216/.313/.352 with 3 HR in 145 plate appearances
Wins Above Replacement: 0.5
Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz is a veteran catcher with more than ten years of experience with the Philidelphia Phillies. The Seattle Mariners aquried Ruiz from the Los Angeles Dodgers last off-season, and here is what Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto had to say about him.
“First and foremost, Carlos brings us a veteran presence with outstanding leadership qualities and a winning pedigree/ His combination of strong on-base skills, situational awareness and game-calling ability are a welcome addition to the Mariners.”
While Ruiz has been declining ever since his 2012 all-star season, Ruiz brings veteran and leadership qualities along with his strong defensive skills.
C, A.J. Ellis — Miami Marlins
2017 Salary: $2.5 million
Games Played: 51
Stats: .210/.298/.371 with 6 HR in 163
Wins Above Replacement: 0.4
A.J. Ellis is a veteran catcher and fan favourite of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw and Ellis were very close friends, and Ellis caught almost every one of Kershaw’s starts for more than eight seasons (2008–2016). While Ellis does not have a knack for hitting, he is a better than average defender behind the plate.
Out of these options, who would you pick as the Toronto Blue Jays 2018 backup catcher?