The Minnesota Twins’ most pressing need entering the offseason was obviously starting pitching, and the signings of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes are two big steps toward addressing that weakness. But with All-Star catcher Joe Mauer moving to first base next season the Twins now have a bit of a void behind the plate, and despite some early rumors of interest they’ll miss out on A.J. Pierzynski, who has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox, and perhaps Jarrod Saltalamacchia as well.
The Toronto Blue Jays have signed catcher Dioner Navarro to a two-year deal, and they followed up that move by not tendering a contract to J.P. Arencibia on Monday after reportedly trying to trade him. With Arencibia now available, should the Twins have interest in him?
Arencibia is a below-average defensive catcher (26 percent career caught stealing rate, 34 passed balls over the last three seasons) with a .212 career batting average and a .258 career on-base percentage. He does have 62 home runs over the last three seasons (1,264 total at-bats), and since power is the driving force for his value it’s worth wondering if moving to a more pitcher-friendly home park will have a significant negative affect on that.
Arencibia does have a career batting average on balls-in-play (BABIP) of .281 against left-handed starters, which is above his overall career mark in that category (.250) and would theoretically make him a solid platoon candidate. But Josmil Pinto is also a right-handed hitter, and he should get an opportunity to at least earn a spot on the Opening Day roster next year after hitting .342 with four home runs and 12 RBI with the Twins late last season.
If signing Arencibia directly leads to Pinto seeing less playing time, or even opening the 2014 season in Triple-A, I think it would be a bad move for the Twins. The weakest areas of Arencibia’s game are likely to remain weaknesses at this stage of his career, since he’ll turn 28 in January, while Pinto has room to grow as an all-around catcher and could become a key contributor by the time the Twins are ready to return to playoff contention.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bradberreman24.