Danny Jansen is the Blue Jays catcher of the future, but based on Luke Maile’s performance this season, he deserves to be getting far more recognition than he’s been receiving.
Maile proved what he’s capable of doing this year when healthy. At just 27, there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to improve in 2019. Unfortunately though, he’s become the forgotten man of sorts on the Blue Jays. What with Russell Martin and the $20-million he’s owed next season, and the up-and-coming Jansen, Maile is left to wonder what his place is on the Blue Jays.
Of all American League teams in 2018, the Blue Jays allowed the 2nd most stolen bases (130), and had the 3rd worst percentage of throwing runners out (23.1). The opposition knows all too well they can run with ease against Toronto. And if it happens to be a quicker ball club such as Boston, Cleveland, or Tampa Bay, they can have a field day on the bases when facing the Blue Jays.
Toronto’s problem with being an easy team to run against can’t be entirely blamed on their catchers though. Blue Jay pitchers do a horrendous job of holding runners on. In fact, many Toronto pitchers have gotten lazy when it comes to holding runners and expect for their catcher to come through an save them. Toronto catchers may be ranked 13th in the AL when throwing out runners, but how many times did they not even have a chance on account of the great jump the runner had. For two years running, Maile has led the Blue Jays in throwing runners out (35% in 2017, 30% in 2018).
If the Blue Jays front office decides that Maile is deserving of an increased role, it’ll mean having to make a difficult call on Martin. There’s little chance Toronto carries three catchers next year, especially with a young player like Jansen needing regular playing time to continue his development. This is a question of whether the Blue Jays go with Martin or Maile. Do they release Martin and eat the final year of that sizeable contract…or do they relegate Maile to Triple A and risk the league running at will against them.