Blue Jays: Will Reese McGuire make an impact this season?

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Reese McGuire /

Perhaps an underrated acquisition at the 2016 trade deadline, catching prospect Reese McGuire has been rather dormant since his acquisition. With the boys in blue considering alternative backup options, could McGuire eat up some innings in the bigs?

When initially acquired from the Pirates at the 2016 trade deadline, Reese McGuire was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the Pittsburgh system. He then saw his rank fall to a lowly 13th in the Toronto system after just 15 games with the Blue Jays’ AA squad, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He was also injured in the latter half of that year, contributing to his drop in rank.

During the 2017 season, Reese saw some time in Dunedin, New Hampshire, and the Gulf Coast League, hitting .295 in a total of 45 games across three levels. Despite his injury riddled campaign, he put up respectable K% and .OBP numbers with all three teams.

Offense aside, McGuire has long been hailed as a fantastic defensive backstop. Fangraphs estimates that McGuire will contribute between 4.0 and 7.0 WAR over his first six seasons in the major leagues (should he make it there). It’s not unreasonable to assume that the majority of those wins would be earned by throwing runners out, and blocking tough breaking balls in the dirt.

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They also gave him great scores for arm strength and fielding, reinforcing the scope of his defensive prowess. The issue is, that’s most of what makes the 23 year-old Seattle native even a consideration for a 25-man roster spot.

Recently, my colleague Brendan Panikkar wrote a piece examining the hypothetical contributions of Luke Maile if he is the backup catcher for the entirety of the season. The conclusion was that Maile will likely not provide much in the way of offense, with his game calling skills making up the majority of his intangible, yet noticeable contributions.

The question is: if the Jays are serious about entering the season with Maile as their premier backup option, why not give McGuire a chance? As many of us know, prospects lose their value the longer they are in the system without big league stints. If the Jays are at all interested in testing McGuire’s abilities, or flipping him for another player of value, now’s the time to do it.

In all likelihood, Russell Martin will need a capable backup, given his age and recent health issues (Steamer projections have him appearing in 98 contest this season), so giving McGuire a chance can’t hurt.

Whatever the case may be, I’m sure this is not the last we’ll hear of the backup catcher discussion. Here’s hoping Reese McGuire is a big part of that discussion.

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