The Toronto Blue Jays smartly locked up a valuable backup catcher at a reasonable price when it was announced that Jeff Mathis has signed a 2-year, $3 million dollar extension today. The news by itself is of course fairly unremarkable but if you look a little deeper (and enjoy conspiracy theories) the signing might be a pre-cursor to other bigger moves.
Heading into next season incumbent starter JP Arencibia would seem like the logical pick to once again get the lions share of at-bats however our top prospect also happens to play catcher and some feel he might be a better offensive and defensive catching option right now.
Travis d’Arnaud is one of the best overall prospects in baseball and had another monster season in Triple-A (303 PAs, 333/380/595 – .414 wOBA) while also displaying above average defensive skills. A knee injury cut his season short or I would have fully expected a September cameo in Toronto.
With the Blue Jays completely focused on adding a starting pitcher (or two) could J.P. Arencibia be used as trade bait to possibly land a quality starting pitcher? While Arencibia has his warts (namely a career .276 OBP) he is still a power hitting backstop who plays hard and is almost a lock for 20 homeruns per season with a full season of at-bats.
His career .444 slugging percentage is a fine selling point if a team is looking for a young, cost controlled catcher who has a comparable starting pitcher available. Or could the Blue Jays try and land an even higher quality of arm and dangle their top prospect Travis d’Arnaud knowing that they can live with what JP Arencibia/Jeff Mathis can provide?
What do you guys think? Who would you be more willing to move depending on the return?