All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies was suspended for the first 25 games of the 2013 season after a second positive test for an amphetamine. Ruiz, who hit .325 with 16 home runs, 68 RBI, and a 4.4 bWAR in 2012, will not be eligible to return to the team until April 28th, leaving the Phillies with a need at catcher.
And which team just happens to have a plethora of talent in the catching ranks? That’s right, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto currently has five catchers on their 40-man roster; J.P. Arencibia, Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck, Bobby Wilson, and A.J. Jimenez. Jimenez is likely to begin the 2013 season back at Double-A New Hampshire, while d’Arnaud, coming off of a season lost to injury, will likely begin 2013 at Triple-A Buffalo. That leave Arencibia, Buck, and Wilson as three men playing for 2 positions on the opening day roster.
One of Buck or Arencibia will not be in Toronto when camp breaks.
While the Blue Jays would like to move Buck, Arencibia carries a higher trade value than Buck, who enjoyed his only All-Star season while with Toronto in 2010. Buck was acquired as a throw-in in the monster deal with the Marlins and has $6 million due to him in 2013. Arencibia is still pre-arbitration eligible and made only $489,000 in 2012.
Moving Arencibia would net a bigger return in that he has more long-term upside than Buck. Trading him, and then using Buck for one season, also opens up the position in 2014 for d’Arnaud, the expected heir-apparent to the tools of ignorance.
With the Ruiz suspension, the Phillies can get added to a list that already includes the Rangers, Mets, and White Sox (should they choose not to resign A.J. Pierzynski). Philadelphia’s needs are a little lower than the others, as they have Erik Kratz slated to step in and signed Hunberto Quintero as a possible back-up option. Ultimately, the Mets and Rangers are still the better trade match-ups, but Philadelphia’s situation creates a little more bargaining power for Alex Anthopoulos.
And with the Winter Meetings slated to begin on Monday December 3rd, a little more bargaining power is all Toronto’s general manager needs.