Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole (22) against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Name Josh Thole Back-up Catcher, Eric Kratz To Minors

All spring long, John Gibbons and the Toronto Blue Jays have been preaching that they would bring the best team north with them for Opening Day. Player options and personal preferences would not play a part in the decisions of who would make the roster and who would be sent to minor league camp.

And all spring long, every move the team has made has been seemingly contradictory to that point. The latest tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith of would seem to confirm that.

Yes, you read that right. Josh Thole has managed to beat out Eric Kratz for the role as back-up catcher behind Dioner Navarro. Or as we like to put it in this neck of the woods, the personal catcher to R.A. Dickey.

Kratz seemed to have the edge in the competition, with the former Philadelphia Phillies back-up hitting a solid .400 with a 1.164 OPS, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI this spring. Josh Thole, who struggled offensively a season ago with the Blue Jays, didn’t do much with the bat to make anyone feel better about his offensive contributions either, hitting just .240 with .520 OPS. Based on sheer offense, Kratz looked to be the winner there.

However, defensively is where Thole made his bones. In 50.1 innings of work, Thole has yet to allow a passed ball, whereas Kratz has allowed 3 of them, mostly while handling R.A. Dickey.

That seemed to be enough to convince Blue Jays management that Thole should be Dickey’s personal catcher. Of course, Dickey likely had a word in the decision as well, having had three years worth of experience throwing to Thole, both with the Mets and the Blue Jays. Winning a Cy Young with Thole behind the plate likely didn’t hurt his opinion of the man either.

So instead, Kratz will join the team’s minor league camp and likely begin the season in Buffalo. Of course the Blue Jays did this a year ago, sending Thole to Triple-A and going with Henry Blanco to start the season, but ultimately sent him packing when his offense was completely lacking. How long of a rope they give Thole will remain to be seen, but at least the Blue Jays will have a strong reserve in the minors should a change be needed.

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Tags: Eric Kratz Josh Thole Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww…. I DID NOT see that one coming. So every fifth day we are going to have 4 guaranteed outs just for the sake of one passed ball a game? It’s not like Thole doesn’t allow passed balls. He lets them through as well with Dickey. I am actually genuinely upset by this move especially if Navarro is not going to be able to play 4 games in a row and needs extra rest. Wow… just wow….

    • JP

      lifetime OBP Thole- .322

      lifetime OBP Kratz- .282

      • garethsmith

        yah but .256 OBP with the jays last season, you really think he was having an “off year” last year, chances are in the AL EAST thole won’t be able to hit nor will he be patient enough to get any decent amount of free passes. Its funny I totally thought AA & Ole Man Gibbons were going to get it wrong by choosing redmond/rogers/happ over mcgowan and they go and make the obviously right decision than they totally screw this up. Kratz control of the running game is alone a reason to send thole to AAA, not to mention navarro can’t catch more than 100 games, so thats a ton of games thole is going to be a massive hole in our lineup.

      • Andrew van Laar

        I could care less about lifetime ATM. I am looking at post concussion numbers for Thole and they are horrible. Besides Kratz bring more defensively in terms of throwing out runners plus he has more pop in his bat.

  • Jay fan since 77

    Tough call but let’s see how Thole does. Kratz will practice with the knuckleballer Ohka. Now the Jays have two big holes in their offense, and with suspect pitching it could be a short trip to AAA for Kratz!

    • Andrew van Laar

      Ohka is in AA not AAA.

  • RyanMueller

    Nothing against thole but kratz is getting the short end of the stick