AUG. 30: Thole has cleared waivers and elected free agency, the team told reporters, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (Twitter link). Kennedy adds that Thole is likely to be re-signed quickly, which would make sense in the event that the organization wants to keep him as depth and for a potential postseason spot in the event of an injury to Martin or Navarro.
AUG. 28: The Blue Jays placed catcher Josh Thole on irrevocable waivers following Sunday’s game, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports. The newly-acquired Dioner Navarro will be activated on Monday to take Thole’s spot on the 25-man roster. Thole will become property of any team that claims him within the 48-hour waiver period, and if he goes unclaimed, he will be released. It should be noted that is different from the standard August waiver process, as those waivers are revocable; Griffin reports that Thole cleared those waivers earlier this month.
Griffin suspects the Jays have a verbal agreement in place with Thole to re-sign the veteran backstop once rosters expand on September 1, and in time for Thole to be behind the plate for R.A. Dickey’s next start. Thole has almost exclusively served as Dickey’s personal catcher since both players came to Toronto prior to the 2013 season. It’s not a stretch to say that Thole’s ability to catch the knuckleball has been the only thing keeping him on the Jays roster and perhaps in the majors as a whole given his poor hitting — Thole entered today’s action with just a .199/.275/.248 slash line over 465 PA as a Blue Jay. Baseball Prospectus rates Thole as an above-average pitch framer, though StatCorner considers him to be a below-average defender on the whole.
Some type of shift to Toronto’s catching depth chart was imminent once the Jays traded for Navarro on Friday. It is possible that one of the Jays’ AL rivals could claim Thole simply to prevent him from returning to the team, though that rival would have to use one of its own 25-man roster spots for Thole over the next couple of days.
If Thole does re-sign with the Blue Jays under the scenario Griffin outlined, he wouldn’t be eligible for postseason play since he’d be joining the team in September. Navarro’s acquisition, however, pretty much closed on the door on any chance Thole had of making the playoff roster anyway. Thole wasn’t included on the Jays’ postseason roster in 2015 when Russell Martin caught both of Dickey’s starts. Given that the Jays will again have a six-man rotation when Aaron Sanchez returns, Dickey himself may not be a lock to make the postseason roster.