Blue Jays: Early prediction about free agent additions
The Blue Jays will have Russell Martin entering the 4th year of his five year deal, and he’ll be 35 on Opening Day. While I believe he’s got plenty left in the tank, I really believe the Blue Jays need to do a better job of protecting his work load, especially in the twilight of his career. He’s been effective as a Blue Jay, but I also believe he’s been worn down each season as well.
That’s not to say that I think John Gibbons has overused him necessarily either. When your options are guys like Josh Thole, Miguel Montero and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, it’s hard to blame a manager for keeping his talented catcher on the field. Which is the Blue Jays need to spend some money on the position in 2018, and get Martin some help.
In an ideal world, Martin would only play 110-120 games next year, meaning it would be great to have someone capable of catching a couple times a week when needed, without having a huge drop off in the lineup. The Jays are already spending quite a bit on the position as it is, but I would argue that is all the more reason to spend more, as you’re protecting Martin in that case.
This feels like a position that could be solved through a trade, but with a quick scan of the potential free agents I’m gonna go with Nick Hundley, who played with the San Francisco Giants this year. Hundley played in 101 contests (remember, it’s the National League), and hit .244/.272/.418 with 9 home runs and 35 RBI on the season. The 34 year old was good for a 0.5 bWAR and earned 0.3 on defence as well, so he’s serviceable on both sides of the ball.
He likely wouldn’t get into 100+ games with the Blue Jays, but lining up behind an aging Russell Martin isn’t the worst spot for a back up catcher looking to get on the field. He made two million in 2017, and might a bit of a raise or a multi-year deal, but I think he’s a good fit.