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Sep 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Anthony Recker (left) tags out Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) at home plate during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit- Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Morning Brew: Trades Catching On?

For today’s Blue Jays Morning Brew, rather than focus on a group of links, I’m going to spend some direct time on one particular post. In this case, Gregor Chisholm’s mailbag from Tuesday, and more specifically the section pertaining to the Blue Jays catching situation.

In his post, Chisholm briefly touches on the available free agent pool for catchers, which outside of Brian McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia is rather lackluster to say the least. Don’t believe me, well here is the list according to Cot’s.

Rod Barajas
Henry Blanco
John Buck
Jesus Flores
Ramon Hernandez
Gerald Laird
Brian McCann
Jose Molina
Dioner Navarro
Wil Nieves
Miguel Olivo
Ronny Paulino
Brayan Pena
A.J. Pierzynski
Humberto Quintero
Carlos Ruiz
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Kelly Shoppach
Chris Snyder
Geovany Soto
Kurt Suzuki *
Yorvit Torrealba

Now, the obvious trio of Pierzynski, McCann, and Saltalamacchia are going to generate a lot of activity, and likely a bidding war. Given Toronto’s larger needs in the starting pitching department, the Blue Jays are not likely to be heavily involved with any of those three outside of due diligence check-ins. Carlos Ruiz may be worth some consideration, but at turning 35 won’t do him any favors in this market, and he looks likely to return to Philadelphia. They may also give a look at Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro, who is coming off a career year in primarily back-up role in Chicago, but they’ll be wary of overpaying for a flash in the pan.

Long story short, the Blue Jays won’t solve their catching dilemma through free agency. So Chisholm went outside the box.

In his piece, Chisholm mentions Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos as a possible trade target, even going as far as to say that the Blue Jays have shown interest in him in the past. The 26-year-old hit .272 with a 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and a .777 OPS over the course of 78 games and 303 plate appearances. However, Chisholm also mentions that Ramos would cost the Blue Jays heavily in prospects, especially with the Nationals lacking a viable in-house replacement.

However, you can’t blame Chisholm for aiming high and looking for a young, controllable catcher that could replace J.P. Arencibia in Toronto. But why stop there? If you’re going to throw out a name that is going to cost you top prospects, why not look at a team that is in a rebuilding phase and with a piece you want?

Say, like the Milwaukee Brewers and Jonathan Lucroy.

Lucroy is under a very affordable contract through 2016, making no more than $4 million during the deal. The contract also contains an option for 2017 worth $5.25 million. And what do you get in return? A catcher that played in 147 games and hit .280 with 18 home runs, 82 RBI, a .795 OPS, and put up a 3.6 WAR (Fangraphs) season. However, he’s still not necessarily the defender you want at the position either, having been rated at -2.0 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved).

Lucroy is going to cost a prospect or three, and some of those are likely to be pitching prospects. That said, the Blue Jays are not likely looking to deal any more of their pitching prospects, especially after plucking a number of top arms to facilitate last winter’s trades. They also lack the corner infield prospect that the Brewers badly need.

That said, this seems like another candidate that the Blue Jays would not likely be able to swing a deal for. A year ago, the prospect feeder would likely have been deep enough to plunder, but this winter, not really. Then again, if those trades hadn’t been made, the prospects in question would still likely be used elsewhere to fill the same holes they filled in 2013. We’d also think twice about move Travis d’Arnaud. Ahh, hindsight.

But hey, if Gregor Chisholm can throw out names and see what happens, maybe we can too. And who knows, maybe the Ninja has something planned already.

Even if it doesn’t amount to anything, we can always dream right?

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