After the completion of Wednesday’s series finale with the Seattle Mariners, it was revealed that catcher J.P. Arencibia had been a late scratch from the line-up and was set to have an MRI on his right knee. According to Josh Liebeskind at MLB.com, the results of the MRI are expected to be known on Thursday.
Arencibia was slated to start the game behind the plate and catch J.A. Happ in his to the mound. However, it became apparent that things were not quite right with the Toronto backstop. After trying to work through it, he finally waved the white flag and Josh Thole stepped in to start.
And while the results of the MRI have yet to be released by the Blue Jays, at least one member of the Toronto media believes that Arencibia could be headed to the disabled list.
Arencibia MRI. Seems #bluejays leaning to DL (knee). Would be eligible 8/21. Nickeas-Ochinko are Bisons but neither is 40-man. AJ Jimenez is
— Richard Griffin (@RGriffinStar) August 8, 2013
That may not be the worst thing in the world for Arencibia. Erratic play and some heavy words for the media, perhaps some time away will allow J.P. to get his head back in the game.
After coming out of the gates strong, flashing the power with 8 home runs in April, he 27-year-old Arencibia has been mired in a season long slump since. In 99 games and 373 plate appearances, Arencibia is batting a lowly .211 with a .247 on-base percentage, 17 home runs, and 45 RBI. His 111 strike-outs have already surpassed his total from 2012 and puts him on pace to pass his career-high of 133, set during his rookie campaign in 2011.
His season has seemingly gotten progressively worse. As the home runs dried up, his power could no longer mask his consistent inability to get on base or let alone make consistent contact. As seen in the table below, Arencibia ranked well below the league average in every month outside of April.
Should Arencibia go to the disabled list as Griffin estimates, the blunt of the catching duties will fall upon Thole, who has caught each of the last three games. Toronto will also be forced to recall a catcher from the minor leagues to serve as a back-up. The list of eligible catchers would include Sean Ochinko and Mike Nickeas from Buffalo, and A.J. Jimenez from New Hampshire.
The 25-year-old Ochinko was an 11th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2009 and is playing his first season at Triple-A. However, he does not carry a big stick, hitting just .238 with a .669 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013.
The 30-year-old Nickeas came over as part of the R.A. Dickey trade, but has yet to make an appearance for the Blue Jays in 2013. However, he has appeared in parts of three seasons with the New York Mets, but owns a .180 average and a .471 OPS in 191 career plate appearances. His results at Buffalo weren’t much better with a .166 average in 170 plate appearances there.
However, that may all be a moot point. Neither Nickeas or Ochinko are on the 40-man roster, mean Toronto would have to make another move to add them. On the other hand, there A.J. Jimenez is already on the 40-man roster.
The 23-year-old Jimenez has looked good in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, hitting a combined .302 with .753 OPS between Dunedin and New Hampshire. He also plays plus defense behind the plate and is extremely proficient at throwing out baserunners. He would be the most likely call-up should Arencibia go on the DL, both from a talent perspective and a roster-flexibility angle.
Resting Arencibia by putting him on the DL would certainly help him clear his head up, and in the meantime, it would also allow Toronto to get a good look at one of their top prospects. It’s a win-win situation.
We just need to see the results of that MRI.