Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training: 5 Bold Predictions

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August 12, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher

Erik Kratz

(31) gets congratulations from third base coach

Juan Samuel

(12) after hitting a game tying three run home run in the 8th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Cardinals, 8-7 in 11 innings. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Kratz Will Be The Back-up Catcher

When the Blue Jays acquired Josh Thole as part of the R.A. Dickey trade, the team thought they were getting not only an experienced handler for the knuckleballer, but also a decent bat with upside. Neither of those things worked in Thole’s favor in 2013.

After starting the season in the minors in favor of Henry Blanco, and subsequently doing quite well for himself in Buffalo, Thole struggled immensely upon returning to the Majors. In 45 games for the Blue Jays (135 plate appearances), Thole slashed a miserable .175/.256/.242 which was weighed down by a .213 BABIP. However, his defense was equally atrocious, with 9 past balls and 12 wild pitches in just 288.1 innings of work, rating him out as being worth -2.0 defensive runs saved.

That opened the doors for Kratz, who the Blue Jays acquired for Brad Lincoln over the winter. Kratz allowed just 1 passed ball and 16 wild pitches in nearly 478.1 innings of work last year behind the plate. However, he didn’t have to catch a knuckle-ball either and despite that, still was worth a -4.0 DRS last season for the Phillies.

The Blue Jays are looking to see what Kratz can give them as a back-up, pairing him with R.A. Dickey in the early goings of the spring and seeing what extended work this winter with the Blue Jays ace did for him. With the consensus down on Thole, this looks like Kratz’s job to lose.