Toronto Blue Jays: Does Humberto Quintero Signing Mean Josh Thole is Their Backup?


The Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal on Friday, including an invitation to spring training.

Normally, minor league signings such as this one slide through the Twitter-sphere with a tweet mention and we carry on with our speculation of other free agents on the market. But given the Toronto Blue Jays backup catcher situation, this is a move worth mentioning.

Although Quintero is a 36-year-old career backup who will more than likely provide minor league depth for the Jays, his addition could mean that Josh Thole is the team’s backup catcher next season.

Sep 11, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) throws out New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (not pictured) after a strikeout to end the game during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 11-5. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Dioner Navarro, the Jays backup catcher last season, is a free agent and will more than likely wait for a starting opportunity to emerge instead of re-signing with the Jays as a backup.

A lot of fans will not be pleased with this idea, but if Navarro feels that he’s worth a salary around $5 million, which is what he made last year, they shouldn’t be upset. The Jays can make better use of $5 million elsewhere.

Yes, Navarro and Estrada had great chemistry last season, but keep in mind it was only over 79 plate appearances. Russell Martin is one of the best catchers in baseball and I don’t think he will have trouble working with Estrada.

As for Thole, he’d essentially be R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher, with a few starts mixed in for other pitchers. With Martin entrenched as the Jays starter for the foreseeable future, the Jays don’t need an “elite” backup catcher. They just need somebody who is serviceable, which could be Thole.

Of course, if Martin goes down because of an injury, having Thole and Quintero as your catching duo is a scary thought. Andrew Stoeten brought up an interesting point, however, when he pointed out that Martin struggled offensively when he caught Dickey, which is largely due to the wear-and-tear he underwent while catching Dickey.

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Although 41-year-old right-hander doesn’t throw hard, Martin had a tough time catching Dickey’s knuckleball and it effected the way he caught other pitchers.

“The other balls, I’m able to catch in the glove. The knuckleball, I never catch it in the sweet spot,” Martin explained. “My other glove, I’m catching the ball in the sweet spot almost every time. With that one, it’s rattling around in my glove, so every once in a while it will catch me on the inside part of the thumb and it jams it a little bit. It’s not broken. Just bangs it a little bit.”

What’s an easy resolution to this problem?

Josh Thole.

Clearly, Dickey needs to be caught by somebody who isn’t Russell Martin. So who better than Thole?

While Thole serves as the backup catcher for the Jays, Quintero can be a veteran catcher for the Bisons while A.J. Jimenez continues to develop. But if Jimenez has a strong spring, moving on from Quintero wouldn’t take much. Either way, you see where this is going with Thole.

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If having Thole as the Blue Jays backup catcher next season equates to a healthier Russell Martin, I’m all for it.