Blue Jays: On A.J. Jimenez, time through the hourglass, etc.


Blue Jays catcher A.J. Jimenez has battled all shapes and sizes of injury since joining the Blue Jays eight long seasons ago

The Toronto Blue Jays and catching prospects. The two things haven’t gone together so well in recent memory.

Selected in the ninth round by the Blue Jays all the way back in 2008, A.J. Jimenez was once viewed as Toronto’s “next” catcher. Shades of Travis d’Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia, and Max Pentecost, who for a wide variety of reasons, don’t exactly appear poised to catch the first pitch from Marcus Stroman this April in Tampa Bay.

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The issue facing Jimenez is now not just health, but options. He’s out of them, and in the (extremely) likely scenario that he does not crack Toronto’s opening day 25-man roster, he must pass through waivers before reaching triple-A Buffalo.

The key is to keep him healthy, and he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and that’s what kills you in this business, manager John Gibbons told Steve Buffery. “I mean realistically, if he stayed healthy, there was a chance he’s in the Big Leagues two years ago. But that’s a problem he ran into. But he feels good now, and hopefully that’s all behind him. He’s been snake bit to this point and he could use a little bit of good luck, that’s for sure.”

Jimenez has changed his diet this offseason to enter camp more athletic, and still just 25-years-old, there’s plenty of time for the Puerto Rican to turn it around. Even if he could emerge as a viable backup option to Russell Martin within his contract span, that’s valuable.

Again, though. Options.

The real question here is whether or not another major league club would place a claim on Jimenez. As rosters churn ahead of opening day, that becomes even more unpredictable than usual, but at the very least, there’s a chance.

A former top-15 prospect in the organization, Baseball America also named Jimenez the top defensive catcher in the Blue Jays system twice (2011 – 2012).

Jimenez has the rare designation of a position player who underwent Tommy John surgery (2012), and various other injuries have limited him to just 478 games in eight seasons. When healthy, he hasn’t quite shown the necessary plate prowess to produce a well-rounded game.

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His double-A slash line of .251 / .297 / .362 over 107 games lines up with his triple-A slash line of .247 / .292 / .339 over 89 games. While his numbers are much stronger in the lower minors, these upper minors numbers give little cause for optimism.

Other MLB teams will be seeing those exact same numbers. His remaining potential is still enticing at 25, but roster spots are valuable.

When the time comes, I would expect the Jimenez waiver process to feel much like that of Chad Jenkins. Uncomfortable and inconvenient, but you hope he comes out the other side. Which, in Jimenez’s case, he very well could.