The Toronto Blue Jays have recently been linked to star catcher J.T. Realmuto, but he is not someone the team should pursue in free agency.
A rumour came out that the Toronto Blue Jays are in on free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, at least according to Craig Mish of the MLB Network. Realmuto is one of the best players available on the open market this offseason in which he will be in high demand and will garner interest from multiple teams.
A few weeks back, Ross Atkins stated that the Blue Jays are open to adding a high-impact player and Realmuto definitely fits that bill.
At the plate, Realmuto is a career .278/.328/.455 hitter with 95 home runs, 156 doubles and 749 hits over 732 games. He’s also swiped 44 bags. Behind the plate, he has a fielding percentage of .993 and has caught runners stealing 35.8% of the time. He has a Gold Glove award for his defensive work from the 2019 season.
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Despite Realmuto being the best catcher in the game, he is not someone the Blue Jays should go after.
The Blue Jays have tremendous amounts of depth at the catching position both in the majors and the minor leagues. Last season, they had Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Alejandro Kirk and Caleb Joseph (free agent) all appear behind the dish. They also just recently added catching prospects Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams to their 40 man roster to prevent them from getting exposed in the Rule 5 draft.
Realmuto is far better than any of the catchers mentioned above, but since he can perform at a higher level, he will come at a higher cost.
He is apparently seeking a deal similar to Paul Goldschmidt‘s contract with the Cardinals which he signed for five years and $130 million. He is also probably looking to be the highest paid catcher per average annual value, which is currently held by former catching great Joe Mauer who received $23 million per year.
That is a lot to pay for a catcher, especially since stars who play that position aren’t always everyday players due to the physical hardships of squatting/crouching on your knees for nine innings on consecutive days.
In the 60-game, 2020 season, Realmuto played in 47 contests. In 2019, which consisted of a typical 162 game schedule, he appeared in 90% of the games (145) but also spent time playing first base in both seasons.
If he were to come to Toronto, he may be relegated to catching duties only due to how crowded the Blue Jays infield is set to be. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Rowdy Tellez is set to be the starting first baseman with the other occupying the designated hitter slot. Eventually, the infield will need to make room for Jordan Groshans and potentially Austin Martin, who may be an outfielder.
While none of the Jays current catchers can hit anywhere close to the level Realmuto can, Jansen can be a solid backstop defensively.
In Jansen’s young career, he has a fielding percentage of .994 while catching runners stealing a quarter of the time. He was a Gold Glove finalist for the 2019 season. Even though Jansen hasn’t hit well yet (career batting average of .208), he can be inserted in the bottom of the lineup.
While catcher is an important position, it’s the defensive rather than offensive production that a team gets out of it. Realmuto is a better defender than Jansen, but the latter can perform defensively a bit worse at a fraction of what the former will eventually get.
It would be a better investment to spend money on upgrades at a different position, as catcher isn’t an area of need for the Blue Jays.