Trade Pass or Play: J.P. Arencibia

http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/Wa9oaHX.9sDLaFcs9YJ_TA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYwMA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en/person/Ysports/jp-arencibia-baseball-headshot-photo.jpgWe are now beyond the start of Free Agency at 12:01 AM November 5. We at Phillies Nation will take a look at a players, namely outfielders, catchers, starting pitchers, and relievers, who the Phillies may target this offseason. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with our first “Trade Pass or Play” candidate, right-handed catcher J.P. Arencibia. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.

Arencibia, 28 for Opening Day 2014, has been among the Majors’ best power hitting catchers over the last three seasons, averaging over 20 homers a season. That’s about where the compliments end.

Arencibia was worth an astounding negative 25.2 runs offensively according to FanGraphs last season, posting career lows in every triple-slash category (.194/.227/.365). Of players with 400+ PA, Arencibia ranked 200th out of 204 offensively, beating out only Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Alcides Escobar, and Adeiny Hechavarria. Arencibia’s relative youth and raw power are very enticing, however, his inability to reach base (55th out of 57 catchers with at least 400 PA from 2011 to 2013) and hit singles (53rd out of 57 in batting average) wreck what should be a monster slugging percentage (just 24th out of 57 with the fourth most homers).


The Phillies now have several catchers on the 40-man roster – Chooch was re-signed, Erik Kratz will likely be retained, and Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph are on the the 40-man roster. This move makes less sense as it once would have a few weeks ago but the Phillies have gone four-plus catchers deep a few times in the last few seasons.


Arencibia is a great buy-low trade candidate – he may be non-tendered tonight – and is a good candidate to be swapped for someone who is already on the 40-man but may no longer have a place on the roster. In this regard, John Mayberry is a good fit, but I’m not sure he would be enough. Arencibia is arbitration eligible for the first time this season.


In their never ending quest for the mythical “right-handed power bat”, Arencibia is definitely a fit on the Phils radar and they could afford his salary.

Verdict: Play

Arencibia is cheap enough and young enough that he’s worth a gamble. He will never likely improve his on-base skills but the strike outs could see a dip with proper coaching. I would actually prefer to trade someone, like Mayberry or Frandsen, to clear a 40-man spot for him to occupy rather than waiting for him to be non-tendered, he is probably better than Kratz, and Rupp would likely be better if he got a full year at Lehigh Valley under his belt.



  1. Lucas

    December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm


  2. Hogey's Role

    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Play!! I’d much rather give him a spot over anyone on our bench, maybe he can back up chooch or maybe they can teach him to play left field just to get his power bat in the lineup

    • schmenkman

      December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      I’d rather have Mayberry in left, since he’s a better hitter and can already field the corners pretty well. As a catcher, he’s not as good as Kratz, but at least he’s younger. But is he as good as Rupp?

      • Hogey's Role

        December 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

        I think Mayberry being better is very debatable… From what little research I did I see Mayberry with an owar of 2.9 and a dwar of -2.9…
        I see arencibia as 2.9 owar and 2.4 dwar…
        Overall I would say arencibia is the better player and if I were building a team I would get arencibia for my bench, not to mention a change of scenery may help this young kid get back on track, so to speak

      • schmenkman

        December 3, 2013 at 8:19 am

        Comparing Arencibia’s defense at catcher with Mayberry’s defense in the outfield is not a fruitful exercise, IMO.

        Is Arencibia better than Rupp? I’d like to think Rupp will do better than the .666 OPS Arencibia has put up so far, but who knows?

        Can Arencibia be taught to play the outfield, a position he’s never played in the majors or minors? Maybe. But the Phillies already have Mayberry and Ruf for that, and at least in the corners, Mayberry is a competent fielder (his negative dWAR comes mostly from his play in CF).

        And as hitters, even over the last two years (i.e. not counting JMJ’s good year in 2011), Mayberry has hit better:

        Arencibia: .211/.248/.395 (.643 OPS, .278 wOBA, 70 wRC+)
        Mayberry: .237/.294/.393 (.687 OPS, .300 wOBA, 86 wRC+)

        Arencibia is just two years younger than Mayberry, and like Mayberry (#19 overall in 2005) he’s a former first round pick (#21 in 2007), and he actually has more major league at bats than Mayberry, and plenty of opportunity to fulfill that promise. But, as you say, it’s possible that a change of scenery will spark something.

      • Hogey's Role

        December 3, 2013 at 9:05 am

        We already know what we have in Mayberry which is nothing spectacular, ruf can more than fill mayberrys role and if we end up needing a cf at some point we have Hernandez is more than capable of manning the position… I’m saying I would go after arencibia for backup catcher, and I would also teach him to play left field so in the case that he had to in order to spell brown or Byrd he would be able to do so, not to mention it would give him added value, he might have a resurgence, obviously it’s unknown if he would but what do we have to lose by trying him out, if john Mayberry has to be cut then I send him packing… I would also take him as a backup over Kratz and give rupp another year or two of seasoning in the minors, but we may just strike gold with arencibia

      • schmenkman

        December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

        Hogey, Arencibia stands to make about $2.3 million more than Rupp in 2014, and will likely be a worse hitter. Why not teach Rupp to play the outfield?

        I understand the impulse to just try something, but it does come at a cost.

      • Hogey's Role

        December 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

        Is rupp gonna play everyday if we do, I doubt it? He needs at least one more year of seasoning, everyday play, which can be had at aaa…. Is money a problem in signing arencibia, I just don’t see it, given the 8.5 a year we just gave Ruiz and 8 million a year we gave Byrd on top of the countless hundreds of millions of dollars this team has handed out is another 2-3 million dollars going to handcuff us, no it’s not, if nothing else this signing gives us a better defensive catching option with a big time power bat, I’d the experiment doesn’t work out we non tender him at the end of the year or trade him, it doesn’t sound like a bad experiment to me better then hanging on to Mayberry or Kratz in my opinion….

  3. George

    December 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I wouldn’t even waste the ML minimum on a guy who struck out 29% of the time and walked something like 4% in order to get a few home runs. When his youth should mean he’d be improving, Arencibia seems to be getting worse. Let some other team have that horrible slash and that negative 25.2 offensive runs mark. Let some other team deal with him getting on base at that horrible .227 rate; that’s nearly as bad as MiniMart’s OBA. The Phils’ offense is bad enough without adding another guy who walks back to the dugout most of the time, and they already have more than one better catcher than Arencibia.

    PASS!!!!, in all caps. I’d underline it about six times if I could.

  4. Hogey's Role

    December 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

    He’s been non tendered… Time to swoop on and sign him Ruben get it done

    • wbramh

      December 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

      I agree.
      Sign him while his batting average is still barely above the MiniMart Line.
      After hitting .196 in nearly 500 plate appearances last year, Arencibia is poised for a breakout year in the .200 range.
      He obviously has all the tool Ruben is looking for save his age. He’s 10 years too young.

    • wbramh

      December 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Wow! A .196 hitter who is expected to make $2.3 mil somewhere next year.
      Forgive me if I can’t get my head around these modern baseball bargains.
      Yeah, Arencibia has some power but unless the Phillies are moving to a T-Ball league next season I don’t see the advantage in signing the guy.

      What exactly is the purpose of stocking up on other lousy teams’ cast-off refuse? We already have our own refuse and too much of it will be showcased for yet another dismal season in the dump.

      If the team is looking for bargains, I’m available… again.
      For the league minimum I’d be willing to get hit by a pitch at least one time per game or until I have to be carried off the field. That would place my OBP well above guys making $7 mil per year. I may even lay down a successful if accidental bunt once in a great while. At 65 I can’t run as fast as I could at 60, but unlike some stars in the league I ALWAYS run out a ground ball.

  5. Alex M.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

    It all depends on price with J.P. and who knows maybe he still has room for improvement. I would add another bench bat. If it is cheap enough then why not.

    • schmenkman

      December 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Other than that he can’t hit, and would be more expensive, I can’t think of any other reasons 😉

      • Alex M.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

        He is still only 28 and has monster power. I said if he came cheap enough he would be worth it. Am I saying he will be our savior, hell no. But if he comes cheap enough then why not go after him, he has major power that could really play well in CBP. If he improves then you can trade him before the deadline, if not then cut him loose.

      • schmenkman

        December 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

        As long as you understand that you are talking purely about potential — it’s the Delmon Young strategy.

      • Alex M.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

        The guy is not going to be the answer in the middle of our lineup but I would have no problem giving the guy a shot as a bench bat and a backup catcher. And no Delmon Young was a situation where Ruben realized he screwed up by not signing anyone for the outfield and Young was his only option. I am just saying its time to mix things up a bit and I think J.P. would be better than Kratz. If they are going to give Rupp a relistic chance at making the team then I am happy with that but after last year I feel like Ruben thinks Rupp is not talented enough to be a major leaguer and it will be Kratz and Ruiz behind the dish this season.

      • Hogey's Role

        December 3, 2013 at 11:59 am

        I agree with Alex…

        However the way I see it playing out is the phillies won’t touch him, he will end up having a resurgent year for a team like the nats or braves and the phillies will finish with another 70-80 win year and the same people will be here saying hmm I wonder what we could have done to try something to stir the pot around here, I just can’t think of what could be done, why would we possibly take a chance on a player when we already have proven failures all over this club

      • schmenkman

        December 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        There’s a chance it could play out that way, although the term “resurgent” does incorrectly imply that there was a first “surge”.

        IMO the chances of that happening are about the same as Delmon returning to his 2010 glory days, which is what I meant earlier when I called it the DY strategy — it’s a roll of the dice, hoping that the unlikely happens.

        I agree though that the opportunity cost is less since he would be a backup, and for many fans thirsting for something to get excited about, I can see the attraction. The only down side then is blocking Rupp for another year (assuming he would have had a shot at the backup role in the spring).

      • Hogey's Role

        December 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

        I would rather let rupp have another year to develop… Maybe arencibia doesn’t work out and we non tender him, maybe he will establish some value and we can trade him for something or keep him, but standing pat isn’t helping this team, Mayberry won’t help us win, so why keep him, he’s a bench player at best and we know what we have there, we also know what we have in Kratz, I would prefer to try arencibia and see where it takes us

      • hk

        December 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        Kratz > Arencibia

        Albeit in a smaller sample size than Arencibia, Kratz has walked more frequently, gotten on base more frequently, struck out less frequently and produced slightly worse power numbers (.188 ISO and .407 SLG vs. .196 and .408, respectively, for JPA) while being a better defender.


      • Hogey's Role

        December 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        Ok so let’s not make any changes and go with the same plan that won 70 some games, umm good idea??

      • hk

        December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm


        All other things being equal, how many more games do you think they’d win with Arencibia over Kratz? If you want to complain about this off-season, there’s plenty to complain about. It’s just that the difference between Arencibia and Kratz / Ruff or Rajai Davis and JMJ is not meaningful. If the Phils are serious about contending, they have to make big moves like signing Tanaka and signing Ellsbury, not Marlon Byrd. However, I don’t think ownership is going to allow RAJ to increase the payroll or commit to players for 2017 and beyond. I think they are giving RAJ one more year to show that his plan was right and that it was undercut by injuries and bad luck.

        By the way, I disagree with ownership. I think RAJ has been a disaster as GM and that he should have been fired by now. I would like to see them trade Lee (and any other veterans that can bring a decent return) and attempt to expedite the rebuild…but only with another GM doing the rebuilding.

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