Let Zaun Walk?
For today’s post, we delve into our mailbag to come up with a question in regards to a long-time obsession of mine.
Callum, it is no secret you have a mancrush on Gregg Zaun and your love for him is well documented on this website. With Gregg filing for free agency, the Jays have to let Zaun walk, don’t they? He’s a class B free agent, which will yield the Jays a supplemental first round pick if he’s signed by another club. Are Zaun’s leadership skills, game calling ability and pretty hair enough to warrant sacrificing an extra draft pick just for a back-up catcher?
To be honest, as big of a stud as I think that Zaun is, I was a little more than surprised that Zaun was labelled a Type B free agent. For Zaun to be granted Type B status, he has to be in the top 21%-40% production wise at his position. Considering Zaun has been relegated to backup status the past few seasons, it must be a testament to his studliness, no? Okay, maybe not, but it does present JP with a difficult decision: sign Zaun as Barajas’ backup or let him walk and receive a sandwich pick as compensation should he sign with another team.
Let’s look at the options. The first one is to let Zaun walk and sign one of the aging veterans on the market who are not Type A and B free agents such as Javier Valentin (Reds), David Ross (Red Sox), Toby Hall (White Sox), Henry Blanco (Cubs), Johnny Estrada (Nationals), Adam Melhuse (Rockies), Vance Wilson (Tigers), Chad Moeller (Yankees), Brad Ausmus (Astros), Paul Bako (Reds), Josh Bard (Padres), Michael Barrett (Padres). The problem is, all these guys suck and are not as good as option 2.
What is option 2? Glad you asked. The Jays actually have depth in the minors at the Catcher position (I know it sounds funny but believe me it is true). Barajas is just warming the position for JP Arencibia to take it over at the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. Why not just use Arencibia as the back up? It could be a good idea, but on the other side of the fence you are starting his arbitration clock and as a young player who needs development time it might stunt his development to work eratically behind Barajas. The same can be said for another up and coming Catching prospect, Brian Jeroloman. Option 3 is to use someone the Jays have used at the position before, Curtis Thigpen. I would argue his development has already been stunted and the Jays have run his career into the ground by using him sporadically and switching positions on him constantly. Thigpen can play serviceable defense and swing the bat as well as all of the other Catching options, which is all you can ask for in a backup. Personally, I would go with option 3, but what JP decides to do remains to be seen.
The Jays farm system is shamefully thin and needs to be restocked in the worst way. JP Ricciardi’s track record, other than Travis Snider, has not been so good and he needs as many shots in the dark as possible to try to get it right. This is why a supplementary first round draft choice is more valuable than having Zaun in a backup role.
To answer your question succinctly (and I say this with a heavy heart), JP has to let Zaun walk.[youtube UkOL5pbnFbc] [youtube imQQpDA1-ws]