If you are reading this piece, you likely have already seen the news that the Blue Jays have signed catcher Dioner Navarro to a 2 year 8 million dollar contract. The money involved is fairly negligible, but it leads to the question of what happens in 2014 at the catcher position. Given comments that Alex Anthopoulos has made, it seems unlikely that J.P. Arencibia will be back with the team for the upcoming season. Today, Monday December 2nd is the non-tender deadline, and there has been speculation that Arencibia could be non-tendered or traded, which in all honesty would be a large mistake.
If you look at the past 2 seasons, Navarro has been a far superior offensive player than the incumbent Arencibia.the past two seasons Navarro has hit .298/.352/.482 in 339 Plate Appearances, which in all actuality is still an incredibly small sample. Compare that to .244/.306/.353 from 2004 to 2011 in over 2000 plate appearances. As poor as Arencibia was at the plate in 2013, his career triple slash is still .212/.258/.408, and over his first two seasons in the majors he hit .225/.279/.437 over 850 plate appearances, and has far more pedigree as a hitter.
On to the defensive side of the equation, Navarro is a very poor receiver and a lazy blocker. While caught stealing percentage is never a great measure of defense, Navarro has thrown out 29.2% of base stealers while J.P. Arencibia has thrown out 26.3%. Do not look at catcher defensive metrics though, which at their best are wholly inaccurate. It isn’t a very popular opinion, but JPA is a much better defensive catcher than people admit too. While no one would confuse Arencibia and Yadier Molina, Arencibia is at worst a below average defensive catcher.
In conclusion, given Arencibia’s years of control, age and in theory being a better catcher overall than Navarro would lead to thinking cutting ties with Arencibia due to the Navarro signing would be a large mistake. Attempting to shop Arencibia when teams know you have to make a move before the non-tender deadline kills Arencibia’s trade value. Arencibia still has potential and has flashed it as recently as the beginning of 2013. With MLBTradeRumors has Arencibia projected to make 2.1 Million in 2014, a far cry from the 4 Million guaranteed to Navarro, it is difficult to see the two co-existing as Navarro isn’t’t a fit to catch Dickey. As much as JPA has drawn the ire of the Blue Jays fan base, he deserves more credit than he has been getting. Neither option is great, but to assume that Navarro is an upgrade is fairly foolish without knowing what is happening internally with Arencibia and management.