A.J. Jimenez has gone from 'catcher of the future' to 'backup catcher of the future' to let's hope he can get through the season without a major injury.
A.J. is 25 now (will be 26) May 1. He's out of options, but then, it isn't likely that any team would be thanking him from us on waivers. I don't get the feeling that Jimenez really isn't a big part of the team's plans. We seem to be signing up any journeyman catch we get our hands on.
In a perfect world, he would be battling for a backup catcher role, but he hasn't played enough in the past four seasons to even be considered for the job. Add in that our backup catcher will have to catch R.A. Dickey and that the Jays (and many other MLB teams) seem to prefer longtime veterans to hold the job, there is almost no chance A.J. will be breaking camp with the team.
I imagine the plan for A.J, is to be put on waivers (at the end of camp), and, after clearing, getting assigned to Buffalo, and hopefully getting in a full and productive season. That could put him into the conversation for the backup catcher next year, when R.A. Dickey has moved on and (hopefully) taken Josh Thole along with him.
But, he would have to get in a full season worth of play, 100+ games and he'd have to hit, show that he can still throw out base stealers and show he still has the defensive abilities that made him a top prospect.
A.J. played just 28 games last year, 83 games in 2014 and 67 games in 2013. And he hit just .194/.261/.278 in 2015 and .249/.289/.351 in 2014. If he wants to get that backup catcher union card, he's going to have to hit a lot closer to the .287/.332/.406 line he had in 2013. Do that in 100+ games and he could compete for that backup job next year.
With Russell Martin signed through 2019 and Max Pentecost coming up behind him, backup catcher might be the best A.J. can hope. If it is going to happen with the Jays, this year better be a good one.
When a player has been in the organization as long as Jimenez, I develop an attachment to them. I'd love to see A.J. have a great year and get back on the teams radar.