Toronto Blue Jays news and notes for Tuesday, January 24th
The Blue Jays were active on Monday, adding two minor-league depth pieces in catcher Juan Graterol and infielder Gregorio Petit.
IF Gregorio Petit
Profile: Petit’s addition is similar to those of Alexi Casilla, David Adams, and Jio Mier prior to the 2016 season. All three saw steady time with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, and given Petit’s defensive flexibility, he will offer depth at multiple positions. Petit has a career .643 OPS at the MLB level and appeared in 89 games with the Angels last season, but that was more a product of a poor Los Angeles team than Petit forcing his way on to the roster.
Likely 2017 role: With Andy Burns headed to Korea, Petit could take over a utility infield role with the Bisons. His value will likely be higher than his stat line suggests, and if the Blue Jays lose the out-of-options Ryan Goins late in the spring, Petit could be next in line behind Darwin Barney.
C Juan Graterol
Profile: Graterol is a nice defensive option behind the plate, but has felt the DFA churn this off-season while jumping from roster to roster. Toronto has the clear need at the position, however, so it’s possible he sticks this time.
His bat lacks pop, but he puts the ball in play at a very high rate and is coming off a nice season with triple-A Salt Lake. In 68 games, he hit .300 with a .710 OPS. For his career, Graterol has thrown out 38% of runners.
Likely 2017 role: There’s no reason why Graterol won’t have a shot at the MLB roster, but entering camp (and if he sticks), his best value could be as a triple-A security blanket. That way, the Blue Jays could feel more comfortable with A.J. Jimenez on the MLB roster knowing that the Bisons have a suitable everyday option. A free agent addition at the position, of course, could change that.
Staying at the catching position, Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday that the Blue Jays have expressed some interest in free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamacchia is not the defensive player he once was, as his value behind the plate and pitch-framing abilities have regressed in recent seasons. He does offer plenty of power, however, and is typically a strong bet to hit 12-to-16 home runs with regular at-bats.
The 2016 season was difficult for Saltlamacchia as he hit .171 with the Detroit Tigers, but he did salvage that with 12 home runs. A switch-hitter, ‘Salty’ is much better against right-handed pitching and could be used off the bench late in games as a boom-or-bust power option (though Justin Smoak does fill that description to some extent).
Strikeouts have been an issue for Saltalamacchia with a career rate of 30.5%.