After finalizing one-year deals with Emilio Bonifacio and J.A. Happ earlier in the day, the Toronto Blue Jays then turned their attention to their final arbitration eligible player, Josh Thole. However, unlike Bonifacio and Happ, the Blue Jays locked up Thole with a 2-year deal, worth $2.5 million.
The 26-year-old catcher was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, reaching the plateau as a Super-Two player. By signing him for two season, the Blue Jays buy out his next season of arbitration eligibility, and possibly his third by including a team option worth $1.75 million in 2015. He earned $498,200 in 2012.
Thole was acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade with the New York Mets earlier this winter. While he hit just .234 in 104 games with the Mets in 2012, Thole’s value goes far beyond his miniscule skills at the plate. Namely, his inclusion in the Dickey trade, and the Blue Jays insistence on signing him to a multi-year deal, are tied to the fact that he can catch the knuckleball, specifically that of R.A. Dickey’s. The Blue Jays insisted on receiving a catcher back in the trade with New York in order to have someone familiar with catching Dickey. By locking up Thole for possibly the next three seasons, the team is assured to have a catcher capable of handling the ace of the staff throughout the entirety of his contract with Toronto.
Sometimes, it is nice to ride the shirt-tails of another and be appreciated for it.