Jon Heyman just Tweeted that Josh Thole has signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks. The 30-year-old catcher has spent the last four years with the Toronto Blue Jays, following on from four season with the New York Mets. While he was the Mets’ front-line starter in 2011 and 2012, starting 91 and 90 games respectively, Thole’s playing time decreased sharply after he was dealt to Toronto as part of the R.A. Dickey trade. He hasn’t started more than 41 games in a season since, and 30 of his 38 starts in 2016 came in his role as Dickey’s personal catcher. Oddly, at the end of August, he was a free-agent for about 36 hours before Toronto re-signed him.
Thole certainly wasn’t employed for his bat: over the four years in Toronto, he hit exactly at the Uecker Line, batting .200/.275/.248. He has graded out at somewhat below average in pitch-framing, according to StatCorner, in three of those four seasons, and been at or below overall replacement value by both bWAR and fWAR. Hard to say exactly where he will fit in to the team’s depth chart. Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis and Chris Herrmann appear to have the major-league spots locked up, but I can see Thole catching in Reno, while Oscar Hernandez [still the youngest D-back, in the sense of being the only one born after 1992] catches for Mobile.
It’s a bit of a surprise Thole didn’t follow Dickey to Atlanta, since of his 375 starts as a catcher, not far short of half (164) have involved him catching Dickey. In case you’re wondering, “What about Juan Graterol?”, the catcher we picked up from the Reds just before Christmas, when we DFA’d Peter O’Brien, he was put on waivers when we signed Iannetta, and was picked up by the Angels on January 19. Though they didn’t hang on to him either, putting him on waivers once more, and just this afternoon, he was picked up by his fourth organization of the winter (not counting his two stints with Anaheim). Of course, it was the Toronto Blue Jays who took him...
The Wheel O’ Catchers will continue to spin, spin, spin from now through Opening Day, I’m sure.