Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s get straight to the nut of this one. I probably wouldn’t be writing a full post about the Jays’ just-reported decision to sign infielder Gregorio Petit to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training if for one thing: the fact that Ryan Goins is out of options.
Petit will provide the club with a layer of insurance that can be comfortably stashed in Buffalo and won’t force them to do anything drastic like call up Richard Urena should they find themselves in need of an infielder at some point. The former A’s, Rangers, Clevelands, Padres, Astros, Yankees, and Angels man is not good, obviously, and doesn’t even get good grades for his glove work per UZR (though DRS seems to like him better), but he’s someone who can come in and help the club in a pinch and not entirely kill them. (He played 89 times and came to the plate 223 times for the Angels last year, which is hilarious save for the fact fact that said organization continues to surround the once-in-a-generation talent they were gifted with pure trash).
Worrying about how Petit might do for the Blue Jays isn’t really worth our time, because he’s not going to play here much, and if he is, something has gone badly wrong and the team is probably fucked anyway. What makes him interesting, as I said off the top, is that this move hints at the very real potential of the club losing Ryan Goins on waivers. And since fans like Goins and know him well (and, if they’ve ever listened to the games on radio, have heard a pretty fanciful account of his value from a certain legendary broadcaster), this notion is perhaps a surprise to some.
This isn’t the only reason the Jays will have brought Petit in. Surely they would have wanted an extra infielder for Buffalo regardless. But we only need to look at roster numbers to see that Goins has a little bit of a problem. If everybody is healthy on Opening Day — a big if, obviously — right now things look like this:
Five starting pitchers and seven relief pitchers makes 12. Russell Martin and his backup will bring the total to 14. At 1B/DH they have Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, and Steve Pearce — so 17. Infield starters are Devon Travis, Tulo, and Josh Donaldson, which brings us to 20. And in the outfield there’s Bautista, Pillar, and ultimately two others (right now Melvin Upton and Ezequiel Carrera). That brings the total to 24, and they will then need to carry someone who can backup at shortstop: one of either Goins or Darwin Barney.
I suppose they could carry one fewer outfielder, if they consider Steve Pearce to be more of that category than of the 1B/DH situation, but that would seem to mean, a) far too many plate appearances for Justin Smoak, and b) too much reliance on Pearce to remain healthy, which he’s rarely been able to do.
Barney could be the one to go, too, but that’s more complicated because he’s on a big league deal — albeit one that came by way of the arbitration process, meaning the Jays could cut him in the spring and pay just 1/6 of his salary — and since Goins might make it through waivers and get to Buffalo anyway, that seems the more likely scenario. But the thing about him getting claimed on waivers is that he might not! If he did, though, Petit would suddenly become that much more important to this club — enough to (barely) justify my writing this post (ostensibly) about him.
And before anybody asks, no, Goins likely doesn’t have the kind of trade value that could net the Jays anything worthwhile at this point. All-glove, no-hit middle infielders tend to be a dime a dozen — case in point: Gregorio Petit — and though Goins’ glove is pretty spectacular, it’s hard to imagine a team valuing him enough to give up something that could really help the Jays. Teams might not even claim him on waivers, so keeping him and hoping to stash him in Buffalo as depth is probably their best move.
Frankly, having everyone healthy and having to make a decision on Goins at the end of camp would probably be a good thing, all things considered (i.e. it means Tulo hasn’t yet started his parade to he DL early this year). Just, y’know, be aware that it could be coming!
In other news…
Speaking of waiver claims, the Jays have claimed catcher and delicious electrolyte beverage, Juan Graterol, from the Angels. I cannot possibly type the word “meh” big or bold enough to convey my feelings on this, but at least he is a warm body and owns a catcher’s mitt, I suppose. (Unless it was lost during one of his stops as he was passed around on the waiver wire all winter.)
There is also a report, via a tweet from Jerry Crasnick, that the Jays have “expressed an interest” in former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who played 92 times (!!!) for the Tigers last year, despite being awful. The thing is, of course, that all backup catchers are awful, so he fits that bill well. Plus, he has lots of big league full-time catching experience, a little bit of pop, and isn’t terribly far removed from being not complete dogshit with the bat: his wRC+ was 100 in 2015, 93 in 2014, and a crazy 116 in 2013 as the Red Sox bullshitted their way to that World Series win. There are pitch framing issues with Salty, if memory serves, but it’s not like you’re going to find a backup catcher who ticks all the boxes, so… sure. Go for it.