We 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.
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.