Trade rumors surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays and their trio of catchers picked up a few weeks ago, when Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (article now archived) suggested that the Jays weren't done this offseason and may be looking to deal one of their three catchers.
Now it's Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports.com who's chiming in, posting that 26-year-old starter J.P. Arencibia is the most likely of the three (the other two being top prospect Travis D'Arnaud and the newly-acquired veteran John Buck) to be dealt.
The key to evaluating whether either of those pitchers are worth dealing for is two-fold.
First off, it needs to be determined if giving up a 26-year-old starting catcher who has already proven that he can hit 20 home runs per season consistently, all while maintaining a fine defensive game for Davis or Niese is reasonable.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, the Jays must consider whether or not Davis and Niese are even major upgrades over the current fifth starter, J.A. Happ.
To me, the answer to both of those questions is no.
While Jonathon Niese had a career year this season, throwing 190 innings, posting an ERA of 3.40 and a WHIP of 1.17, he hasn't posted an ERA under 4.20 or a WHIP of less than 1.41 in either of his two full major league seasons.
Sure, there's the possibility that 2012 was a breakout year, but there's also a good chance that Niese was the beneficiary of pitching in a pitcher-friendly park and an unusually weak division.
Miami was downright pathetic, the Phillies lost some of their biggest bats for a good portion of the season and the Atlanta Braves relied on pitching, as they were in the bottom 10 among all major league teams with a team batting average of .247 (h/t ESPN.com).
When it comes to Niese, there is more than enough reason to be concerned if you're a Jays fan.
As for Wade Davis, he started a grand total of zero ballgames for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.
Sure, he did an admirable job coming out of the bullpen, making 54 appearances and posting an ERA of 2.43, a WHIP of 1.10 and striking out 11.1 hitters per nine innings, but the notion of trading a guy like Arencibia for a bullpen arm is worrisome.
Davis can be a starter if need be, but in his two full seasons as a starter, he hasn't posted an ERA of under 4.00 and has averaged just 176 innings pitched.
Those aren't overly impressive numbers, and certainly not a drastic improvement over a guy like the aforementioned J.A. Happ.
At this point, there is absolutely no reason to move a valuable piece like Arencibia for a pitcher who would provide a marginal upgrade at best at the bottom of the Jays rotation.
With D'Arnaud still untested at the major league level, a case can be made that Arencibia shouldn't be moved at all until at least spring training when the Jays can get a look at their top prospect in action.
With Alex Anthopoulos having proven himself as a great GM thus far, there shouldn't be too much concern among Jays fans.
At this point, unless an overwhelming offer comes in for Arencibia (one that actually provides an upgrade for the Jays on the mound), standing pat is definitely the best move at this point.
No sense in making a trade just for the sake of making a trade.
All statistics used in this article were courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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