Mets Potential Trade Target: J.P. Arencibia


In his recent article for the Boston Globe, Nick Carfado talked about the developing trade market for catchers, specifically talking about Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the three catchers sitting on the Blue Jays roster. Carfado said interest is starting to form for Salty, and he’s the one more likely to be moved than Ryan Lavarnway; the Red Sox see the newly acquired David Ross as a potential mentor for their 25-year-old backstop, so they would be hard-pressed to trade him. In Toronto, their latest blockbuster trade with the Marlins have netted them an extra catcher, adding John Buck to J.P. Arencibia and Travis D’Arnaud. The team seems open to dealing any of the three, but prefers to trade one of their two incumbents. So, this week I will be looking at the potential trade targets the Mets could go after north of the border, starting with Arencibia.

Selected in the first round (21st pick) of the 2007 amateur draft, J.P. Arencibia made his MLB debut in August 2010. He hit .143/.189/.343 in 37 plate appearances and 11 games played that season, then started seeing the majority of the playing time behind the plate for the Jays, as he’s played 100+ games in both 2011 and 2012. Although his batting average hasn’t been the highest (.219 BA in ’11, .233 BA in ’12), he’s shown a propensity to hit with power, as he’s slugged 41 homers over his last two seasons, while also driving in 134 runs. Since his debut in 2010, his offensive WAR has increased each season, from -0.2 to 1.4.

September 24, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia (9) singles in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Blue Jays 4 – 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Does he has the ability to hit for a respectable average? Before becoming a permanent member of the Major League roster in Toronto, Arencibia spent parts of five seasons in the minor leagues, and put together a .275/.319/.507 line. He’s spent most of his time in Triple-A (220 GP out of 410 career games), and hit .267/.320/.530. His career in the minors included three seasons of 20+ homers and 75+ RBI. So, I think he has the ability to turn into a solid overall hitter with some more MLB experience.

By looking deeper into his Major League statistics, he’s shown growth through his first three years, even though his walk-rate decreased and his strikeout-rate increased in 2012. Arencibia’s BABIP increased from .255 to .281  last season, while his line drive rate has increased from 12.5% in 2010 to 17.8% in 2012 and his fly-ball rate has decreased from 58.3% to 45%.

This would be a fantastic pick-up for Sandy Alderson and the Mets for 2013 and moving forward. He’s a right-handed hitting catcher with some power that could fill the void on their current roster, and still has plenty of room to improve. At the young age of 26, he’s still under team control until he becomes a free agent in 2017, and doesn’t become arbitration-eligible until 2014. In his column for the Globe, Carfado said the White Sox could be in the market for another catcher if they’re unable to retain A.J. Pierzynski (which looks likely) and could enter the fray to trade for one instead of looking at other free agent options.

What would the Blue Jays’ price potentially be to move Arencibia? Gavin Floyd‘s name was thrown around as a type of pitcher Toronto would be interested in to solidify the back-end of their rotation. For the Mets, who would be the equivalent? Michael Baron of MetsBlog said Dillon Gee would be a pitcher of comparable talent to offer up in a trade; he should be the more attractive trade candidate, as he would be under team control until 2017, whereas Floyd becomes a free agent after next season.

If this were a perfect world, Alderson would make a deal with the Jays here; they would be able to get the catcher they need to compliment Josh Thole, while also gaining a player that could develop into a solid everyday Major League catcher shortly. If I were Sandy Alderson, the Blue Jays would be getting plenty of calls from me regarding their available backstops. As if the Toronto-Miami mega-trade didn’t help New York enough by weakening the Marlins roster for the immediate future, it’s also created another potential trade partner this winter.

Don’t worry,we’ll take a look at Travis d’Arnaud later in the week, the 23-year-old catching prospect with a world of talent that was one of the major players moved in the trade that netted the Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay.