Blue Jays release A.J. Jimenez


Last week, A.J. Jimenez was designated for assignment in order to make room for new bullpen acquisition Joe Smith, and on Monday the Blue Jays gave him his outright release.

The roster tinkering continues as the Blue Jays have released A.J. Jimenez, the team announced on Monday. The 26 year old catcher played 67 games with the Buffalo Bisons in Triple A, and had yet to earn a permanent promotion to the big leagues in his time with the organization.

Jimenez was originally thought to have a chance to earn the back-up catching job this spring, but it appears that’s no longer the case. The Blue Jays signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a MiLB contract, and he’s likely to be the odds on favourite, especially without Jimenez in the mix. “Salty” brings MLB experience, the ability to switch-hit, and a greater offensive potential than Jimenez was likely to offer.

Jimenez has long been known as a strong defensive catcher, but a combination of struggles with the bat, and with injuries, have stunted his development on the way to the show. Last season he managed a .241/.290/.377 slash line in Triple A, but also missed more than a month on the DL.

Originally a 9th round draft pick in 2008, Jimenez has spent his entire career in the Jays organization, and shouldn’t have a lot of trouble finding a home for this season, though he’ll likely end up back in AAA. It’s hard to envision him finding a big league job, but stranger things have happened, and spring training tends to bring a slew of early injuries as players battle for jobs.

With his release, it’s likely the Blue Jays will turn to some combination of Juan Graterol, Mike Ohlman and/or Reese Mcguire to fill out their Triple A depth at receiver. Graterol for example, is a lifetime .270/.322/.335 minor league hitter, and appeared in 9 games for the Los Angeles Angels last season, so he should be able to fill the void left in catching depth by Jimenez’s departure.

Unfortunately for Puerto Rican, Saltalamacchia’s signing a few weeks ago left his status in doubt. It was thought the two would be in for a spring training battle before Monday’s announcement, but we know that won’t happen now.

Wondering why the Blue Jays decided to release Jimenez? For starters, he was out of minor league options, and would have to pass through waivers in order to return to Triple A, as he had to in 2016. It’s also possible the Blue Jays like their other depth options more, and wanted to give Jimenez a chance to look for an opportunity with more playing time.

We know one thing for sure, that it wasn’t Drew Hutchison who demanded his ouster from the organization. Hutchison is now with the Pirates, so perhaps his agent is making a call to keep Jimenez out of Pittsburgh.

All kidding aside, we wish A.J. well, and hope to see him land a big league gig, sooner than later. Just not the AL East, please.

Next: Blue Jays: Evaluating the offseason goals