Have the Jays already chosen their backup catcher? No, probably not. But they’ve definitely added a frontrunner to the list of contenders:
#BlueJays announce they've selected the contract of C A.J. Jimenez, adding him to the 40-man roster. #MLB
— Scott MacArthur (@ScottyMacThinks) November 8, 2016
Jimenez is an interesting player. Once thought to be “the catcher of the future,” (how many times have we heard that) he had a lot of trouble staying healthy. After a strong 2011 season that saw him hit .303/.353/.417 as a 21 year old in Dunedin, Jimenez missed nearly all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Then after being forced onto the 40-man for 2013, missed a bunch of time that year and again in 2014 and 2015. He did manage to get into 65 games this year, however, which gave the organization a chance to look at him.
As a result of his inactivity, Jimenez hitting skills eroded; He has failed to hit over .260 in any stop in the minors since that breakout in 2011. As a player who doesn’t walk a ton and with minimal power, all of Jimenez’ offensive value was driven by batting average.
Of course, Jimenez main use is behind the plate. He’s a mediocre receiver, but has a rocket throwing arm. Through his entire minor league career, Jimenez has caught 40 percent of would-be basestealers. That’s quite the asset for a backup catcher, and that’s why he’s being considered for the job despite offering only a little more than Josh Thole with the bat. Most backup catchers are good at one thing, which is why they’re backups. Heck, some starters are only good at one thing. The Jays’ backup for three of the last four years was good at nothing, so this would be a nice change.
As a result of his injuries and offensive regression, Jimenez actually cleared waivers last spring after running out of options following the 2015 season. Now that he’s back on the 40, he will once again have to clear waivers in order to be sent down to Buffalo. However, since he has already been outrighted once, Jimenez can also elect free agency, which he almost certainly would do.
In the end, A.J. Jimenez is an interesting option as a backup thanks to his throwing, but if a better choice somehow falls into the Jays lap in this weak market, he is also someone they can afford to lose.
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