Blue Jays: Max Pentecost leaves Jays camp, weighing multiple options

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 11: A detailed view of Louisville Slugger baseball batting gloves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 11: A detailed view of Louisville Slugger baseball batting gloves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays appear to be set at the catcher position this upcoming season, with Danny Jansen and Luke Maile on the roster when opening day begins next week. This leaves Max Pentecost considering his future options with the club, with retirement a possibility.

Shi Davidi with Sportsnet has reported that Max Pentecost left Blue Jays spring training in order to think over his future and his baseball career. This comes as a bit of surprise as Pentecost was most likely going to be the starting catcher for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, where he spent all of the 2017 season.

Drafted 11th overall in the 2014 amateur draft, Max Pentecost was seen by many as a bonafide major league baseball player with lots of potential at the catcher position. While an efficient player with Kennesaw State, Pentecost has been kept off the field as injuries have derailed all but one of his professional seasons since 2014. In particular, he has suffered from numerous shoulder injuries, with one surgery keeping him out of baseball for the entire 2016 season.

Over the past two seasons, Pentecost was invited to the Blue Jays spring training as a non-roster invitee but has yet to contribute at the major league level. This past spring, he played in 5 games, ending with a .286 average and 3 strikeouts over 7 plate appearances before his abrupt departure.

Max Pentecost is most likely considering multiple options when it comes to what to do next with his career and within the Blue Jays organization. Here is my take on potential options to consider.

1. Go to New Hampshire and revitalize his career

While this option seems like the sure choice to many baseball fans, it must be difficult to return back to AA when you were a first-round pick out of college. At 26, he has never seen action past AA ball and I can imagine that Max did not envision his career being derailed with injuries. Last year in AA, Max hit .253 over 89 games with 10 home runs and 89 strikeouts.

One reason I hope he chooses this route is that he could possibly be picked in the Rule 5 Draft if he has a solid year with the Fisher Cats. With Danny Jansen entrenched to be the starting catcher moving forward, this scenario may seem like the best option for Pentecost if he wants to make it to MLB.

With Luke Maile and Reese McGuire on the roster, there is a possibility that Max could be put on the 40 man roster next year, but this seems unlikely (unless he has a fantastic year). Go down to the minor leagues, have a great year, and hopefully get a shot with a team next year. If injuries hit the Jays, Pentecost could also seem himself move up the depth chart due to necessity as well, but only if he continues to play professional baseball.

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2.  Switch positions

While this may seem like a drastic change, it is one that quite a few players have embraced in order to make the MLB. This is especially seen in catchers as the wear and tear on the body over time can force a position change.

Catchers are involved in every single baseball play, and the constant bending and throwing can really wear down knees and shoulders over time (enter Salvador Perez and TMJ surgery). For example, look at Josh Donaldson and Joe Mauer. Both players came into the MLB in the catcher position and saw a position change which benefited their career and could have arguably extended their playing career.

If I were Max Pentecost, I would seriously consider a position change to 1B. One reason for this is due to his shoulder injuries. He would not be using his shoulders nearly as much and can focus on hitting and fielding, rather than all the responsibilities that come with being a catcher.

Another reason to support this move is because of the depth chart at 1B within the Jays organization. Justin Smoak is currently a question mark moving forward as his contract expires this year and I do not see the team keeping Kendrys Morales after this season. His main competition would be Rowdy Tellez, who after last season, made a great impression with the time he spent in September with the big league club.

Tellez will be playing in the minor leagues to start 2019 and if Max has a good year, this could mean a move up the depth chart within the organization (barring any free agent signings).

3. Retirement

If the injuries have taken their toll on him and the dream is gone, then Max Pentecost could possibly retire. While I would not like to see a player like Max do this, they have to do what they think is right for them moving forward. Even if he were to retire, he can always keep his foot in baseball with coaching and advising positions across the league and in college baseball.

I would hope he makes this decision after consulting with the Blue Jays and he has no regrets if he chooses to leave. With Pentecost entering the season at age 26, these are considered a player’s prime years within baseball. I would like to think that Max would consider continuing to play, as he does have a guaranteed spot within the organization at New Hampshire.

If the backstop does decide to retire, I will have nothing but respect for him, as he would be a considerable case for “what could have been if he had not been injured so much”. He also made it further within professional baseball that many players never achieve, and should hold his head high moving forward.

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These next few days will be make or break for the catcher, as he contemplates his future within professional baseball. While we could see him possibly hang up his cleats, Blue Jays fans should support his decision no matter what he chooses to do. Good luck and may the future be bright for you Max.