#TholeFreed Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Call Up Josh Thole, Andy LaRoche, DFA Henry Blanco, Might Sign Chien-Ming Wang

According to the official Blue Jays Twitter account, the Blue Jays have recalled catcher Josh Thole and purchased the contract of Andy LaRoche. To make space on the roster, they have also designated Henry Blanco for assignment.

In addition, Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Blue Jays will also sign Chien-Ming Wang to a contract after opting out with the Yankees earlier today.

Josh Thole has provided quite the offensive boost for this Bisons squad this year. His .322/.383/.510 slash line is bound to decrease as he returns to the majors, but that 8.4% walk rate and 9.1% career walk rate in the majors would be quite the improvement over J.P. Arencibia, who is on pace for a major league record 13.6 K/BB rate. Most likely Josh Thole will be brought to the majors initially only to catch R.A. Dickey‘s starts, but if Arencibia continues his .607 OPS pace from May we might see more of Thole behind the plate for the Blue Jays. He does provide yet another left handed bat, however his career .072 ISO suggests that he will be more of a slap hitter than a slugger. His defense can’t be much worse, as JPA’s defense rankes 71st out of 76 in catcher defense rankings.

Andy LaRoche, however, will likely stay up for as long as Brett Lawrie remains on the DL. The career journeyman has a slash line of .282/.358/.463 this year down in Buffalo, with 7 HR in 204 PA. His advanced defensive metrics at 3B for his career suggest a league average defense at the hot corner, however it has been on the decline since 2010. My guess is that the Blue Jays are tired of putting Edwin Encarnacion over at 3rd base, and after returning from a road trip consisting of multiple NL games with no DH, the team can rely on having both EE and Adam Lind in the lineup without resorting to a massive decline in defense.

The Chien-Ming Wang signing is the most intriguing. After being injured running the bases in an NL game in June 2008 that has turned out to be career-threatening (when will the NL learn to get with the times and adopt the DH?), Wang has had little success in the majors. Since then, he’s posted a 6.39 ERA over 136.2 innings and a lot of time in the minors. While he has had a lot better looking stats down in the Yankees AAA system this year, his low strikeout rate combined with a bad Blue Jays defense might spell trouble for a team in desperate need of starting pitching depth.

But right now, beggars can’t be choosers. While it’s great to realize that Josh Thole has finally been freed, the Blue Jays are 11 games back of the AL East leading Red Sox with a 25-34 record heading into a series against the AL West leading Rangers. They’re desperately flailing as they try to right the ship that’s been heading down towards the depths of the MLB standings. The only team with a worse record in the American League is the Astros. Might as well shake things up.

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