Blue Jays in need of depth at catcher
Toronto seeks backup for starting backstop Martin
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are suddenly in the market for a backup catcher after Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole parted ways with the organization during a span of less than 12 hours.
Toronto declined to tender a contract to Thole prior to Wednesday night's deadline. Thole, who was projected by MLBTradeRumors to earn $1.8 million in arbitration, has become a free agent.
Navarro departed via free agency Thursday morning when he signed a one-year contract with the White Sox, according to a report from FOXSports.com. That leaves the Blue Jays without a reliable option to back up starting catcher Russell Martin, and it's clear the organization will have to make some kind of move.
The only catcher besides Martin on the 40-man roster is A.J. Jimenez, who was once regarded as a top prospect but has seen his stock drop over the years because of injuries. The 25-year-old has yet to make his Major League debut and is coming off a season where he played just 28 games.
Jimenez is well regarded as a defensive catcher and there is some potential in his bat, but it has yet to truly surface. The native of Puerto Rico hit just .194 with a .261 on-base percentage in limited action this year, and he will need to turn things around in a hurry to re-establish his future with the organization.
Toronto can't survive with just Martin and Jimenez behind the plate, so the club will have to find help elsewhere. One possibility would be re-signing Thole to a contract worth less than he was projected to make through arbitration. Thole has spent parts of the past three years as R.A. Dickey's personal catcher in Toronto, and the club still needs someone to fill that role again next year.
The list of available catchers grew Wednesday night when the White Sox non-tendered former starter Tyler Flowers. Other experienced backups on the open market include Jeff Mathis, Michael McKenry, Wilin Rosario, Hector Sanchez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.