August 8, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis (6) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Beauty Of Catching Depth

As of right now the Toronto Bluejays have three catchers that they plan to have on the big league roster: J.P. Arencibia, backup catcher Jeff Mathis and their top prospect Travis D’arnaud. A lot of things could change from now till Spring Training but there are also many ways the Bluejays catching situation could play out.

Jeff Mathis seems to be the only one guaranteed to be on the team as he signed a 2 year extension during the season. The Bluejays could also keep Arencibia and D’arnaud on the team to because D’arnaud can also play 1st base. The Bluejays could rotate the DH spot with Edwin Encarnacion, Arencibia, and D’arnaud. When EE plays first, D’arnaud or Arencibia would DH depending on who catches that day. When EE plays DH, D’arnaud would play 1st and Arencibia would catch.

If the Bluejays need to pinch run for whoever is catching that day they would have the luxury of a 3rd catcher in Jeff Mathis replacing them defensively instead of having to worry about moving players around to other positions to accommodate the pinch running. If Arencibia is catching and gets pinch run for while D’arnaud is playing 1st, D’arnaud could just take over as catcher and one of the bench players could take over at 1st. That’s a lot of versatility for one team to have.

Another great thing about the Bluejays having so much depth at one position is that one of their catchers could be used as trade bait.

Jeff Mathis seems to be the only guaranteed catcher to be on the team not only because of his contract but because back up catchers don’t have a lot of trade value. It is a possibility the Bluejays could use him as a “throw in” in a trade but realistically it’s hard to see any team not agreeing to a trade because the Bluejays refused to include Mathis.

J.P. Arencibia has 2 years of big league experience and despite low batting averages in both seasons he has shown the ability to hit for power in the big leagues with 23 home runs in his rookie season and 18 home runs in just 102 games in 2012. His low on base percentage and poor defensive skills could scare teams and lower his trade value though. When Arencibia has weeks where he is going well with the bat he can really carry a team which is more than you can say about most catchers.

Travis D’arnaud has no big league experience but he is considered the top catching prospect in all of baseball. As mentioned earlier he can also play 1st base. D’arnaud is also projected to be a much better player than J.P. Arencibia both offensively and defensively so believe it or not the Bluejays might actually be able to get more for him than Arencibia.

Whatever choice the Bluejays make with their catching situation whether it’s having versatility with three catchers or the traditional two they’re set up well at that position no matter what.

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Tags: J.P. Arencibia Jeff Mathis Toronto Blue Jays Travis D'Arnaud

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