Stomaching Liriano’s salary yielded fruit. The Blue Jays acquired Reese McGuire, a player who simply gets the job done.
Reese McGuire is not a familiar name for most, as he was recently acquired in the trade that brought over Liriano. With his albatross of a contract, Shapiro had options. He negotiated for prospects instead of currency, a move that garnered little praise at the time.
Name: Reese McGuire
Position: C Age: 21
Height: 5’11″ Weight: 215 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Left
Acquired: Trade with Pittsburgh (Liriano trade, 2016)
Reese is a true defensive catcher. This organization has lacked a true defensive catcher since the Blue Jays backup Jeff Mathis in 2012. Although Toronto has had many talented offensive players in the last few years at the position, Reese is arguably more capable defensively. His career 39% CS% is extremely respectable, even reigning gold glove winner Matt Wieters threw out 37% of would be base stealers in his minor-league career. In Russell Martin’s first double-A season he accumulated 974.2 innings with 14 passed balls. In comparison, McGuire’s first double-A season sat at a respectable 747.1 innings with three passed balls. Two things are clear, you can’t knock his defensive abilities thus far and we love the Pittsburgh Pirates catchers.
Catchers, partially due to positional adjustments, make up much of their value behind the plate. Wieters and Martin have both had fantastic careers, but if you add up their values on FanGraphs, 217.1 runs came from defensive abilities (including position adjustments) and offensively they accumulated -9.6 runs.
With that in mind, hitting your weight does present value, and although McGuire doesn’t exactly put a charge into it, he’s quietly put up decent numbers with a career .267 batting average and a .324 on-base percentage. Contact wise, he has struck out 136 times over his last 1418 plate appearances, which is exceptional. Many prospects will do that in a single season (450-550 PA). Although he hits the ball hard, it doesn’t leave the park often, hitting only four career home runs.
Enough with what he has done, let’s look forward. Scouts have absolutely loved McGuire, and surprisingly most of the focus is around his bat. With such a low load, he generates a comparably large amount of power. Power is typically one of the last tools to develop in prospects, and heading into his age-22 season he still has time on that front. It is likely he will develop more power but how much remains a question.
Contact wise, his abbreviated leg kick does have him go through some stretches of inconsistency, but with experience that should improve. He traditionally has worked hard in the offseason, once adding 15 pounds of muscle.
At the low end, he will likely be a great backup, but mid-range projections would see him as a defensive minded starter. Having completed double-A as his highest level, there is still room to go wrong, but he is one of the most projectable players in the system with a solid base.
If you were betting on a breakout, McGuire would be a good pick. His rawness offensively is what kept him out of the top 10, but after this year that could easily change.
Top-30 Blue Jays prospect rankings:
#30: RHP Jordan Romano #29: RHP Yennsy Diaz #28: CF Reggie Pruitt
#27: 1B Ryan McBroom #26: CF Roemon Fields #25: 2B Cavan Biggio
#24: RHP Jose Espada #23: RHP Patrick Murphy #22: C Danny Jansen
#21: OF Dwight Smith Jr. #20: RHP Zach Jackson #19: RHP Francisco Rios
#18: OF Harold Ramirez #17: C Max Pentecost #16: Ryan Borucki
#15: OF Joshua Palacios