The teams interested in J.P. Arencibia

Patrick Smith

The Toronto Blue Jays signed Dioner Navarro to a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro is one of the most inscrutable hitters in baseball: an All-Star when he was 24, offensive black hole from 25-27, and good in a limited sample over the last two years. But if he's as productive as he's been recently, even if for a half-season, he's worth the money.

It would be a good move for any team, but the Blue Jays were especially desperate for something/anything from the catching position. Jays catchers collectively hit .194/.235/.348 last season. They were even worse at second base, somehow, but their first step was to replace their catcher.

Good news, teams. The catcher the Blue Jays replaced is now available.

Three sources told sportsnet.ca that general manager Alex Anthopoulos will non-tender the 27-year-old (J.P. Arencibia) ahead of Monday’s midnight deadline if a trade partner doesn’t emerge.

And that "good news, teams" is said in the same voice you'd say "Good news, ladies. The guy in the footie pajamas who looks like a hungover Bud Selig is single." The punchline is built in. J.P. Arencibia is available. The Jays are looking to trade J.P. Arencibia. Black Friday is over, but there are still crazy deals to be had. This J.P. Arencibia is a floor model, but he's mostly intact, and waaaay cheaper than the list price from a couple years ago.

Again, we're talking about. Arencibia, who might have been the worst hitter in baseball last year. His .227 on-base percentage was the lowest from any hitter with 400 at-bats since Andres Thomas for the 1989 Braves. There have been only five such players in history. I wrote this back when Arencibia had two walks and 55 strikeouts. His OBP dropped almost 20 points since that article. In retrospect, shoulda gone with the first draft.

The good news is he isn't a very talented defensive catcher, either.

Except, there's going to be a team that trades for him. Maybe the Jays non-tender him before the Monday deadline because they don't get any offers, but I'm guessing there will be one team that doesn't want to chance Arencibia slipping away. We'll know by the end of Monday. And they'll trade for him because of a couple simple stats:

Year Age HR
2011 25 23
2012 26 18
2013 27 21

Catchers who hit that many homers at Arencibia's age generally have long careers. Catchers with power are rare beasts, and they get all the chances they need.

When Arencibia is acquired by another team, the initial reaction from the OBP-loving corners of the Internet will be laughter. Possibly disdain. Because he was really, really awful last year, you know. The team that wants a player coming off a historically bad season is probably a team worthy of our derision, right? A team that wants a hacker like that is probably one of the usual suspects, a team that's still stuck in the '80s

But I think there are two kinds of teams that want Arencibia. The first kind would be the funny kind. Like when the Royals and Jeff Francoeur got together, or the Mariners reuniting with Willie Bloomquist. These are the teams that would want Arencibia, and if they got him, we'd titter and tweet snarky tweets. The Phillies come to mind. So do the White Sox. They would be so crazed with dingerlust, they would ignore the OBP, which they tend to do in the first place.

The other kind, though, would be the smart teams on a budget. The A's or Rays, for example. Those teams take in the tired, the poor, the hacking masses yearning to breathe free if there's a reason to think they might have reclamation potential. And the secret about Arencibia that's obscured by the horrible 2013 is that he can be a valuable player with a .275 OBP. Even with the iffy defense, even with the hacking, Arencibia was worth a win or two in 2011 and 2012. Just imagine if another organization fixed him enough to get him to a .300 OBP. That team would have won the lottery. A very unexciting, esoteric lottery. But it would help them win.

You're right to worry your team will trade for or sign Arencibia. The .666 career OPS is something of a sign, and the .227 OBP last year is something of a billboard. He's probably not a good idea. But as we get ready to laugh at his new team, also be prepared to furrow your brow and wonder what a smart team would want with him. Home runs are scarce, and the money spent in every offseason is ludicrous. If there's a chance to get the power for cheap, it might be worth it. If there's a chance the cheap power comes at a position where it's rare? Teams really will trip over themselves for that.

I'm betting on a smart team. And it isn't going to work out. But not everything the progressive teams try works out. This is a raffle ticket that's hard to pass up for the price, even if you understand why the Jays are running away screaming.

For more on the morning of Arencibia mourning, please visit Bluebird Banter.

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