In a surprise move, the Blue Jays promoted Alejandro Kirk to the big league roster on Friday, and he’ll debut this weekend. Was now really the right time for the 21-year-old to arrive?
Overall, I’ve been pleased with the more aggressive approach from Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office this season. They’re currently in a post-season position and they’re acting like it with most of their roster decisions.
That said, one of the roster tweaks that was announced on Friday caught me by surprise, and that was the promotion of Alejandro Kirk. The 21-year-old catcher will compliment Danny Jansen on the big league squad, and they designated Caleb Joseph for assignment in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
It’s not hard to figure out when the Blue Jays are rolling the dice with this decision, as they’ve had very little offensive production from the catching position. Jansen has slashed just .146/.294/.303, and he’s been their best hitting backstop thus far. Joseph was just 1-8 in his brief cameo, and Reese McGuire was hitting a dreadful .073/.073/.146 before he was sent back to the taxi squad. It hasn’t been pretty and it’s understandable that they are looking to shake things up.
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However, it’s an interesting time to promote Kirk with the Blue Jays in the midst of a playoff push. He provided some exciting moments during Spring Training, but it’s hard to say how he’ll fair against big league pitching with so little experience as a professional. Last season was just his second full year of minor league baseball, and he split his campaign between Low-A in Lansing, and High-A in Dunedin. He hit well, slashing .290/.403/.465 across 310 at-bats over the two levels, but there’s no doubt that he could have used some more development this year.
Unfortunately Kirk hasn’t been allowed that opportunity with MiLB baseball cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Blue Jays have kept him working out as part of their player pool. It’s good that he’s been active and around teammates and instructors, but is it fair to ask him to jump into some meaningful games in the last few weeks of the regular season? Remember, he’s never had an at-bat in AA or AAA, and those are often important steps for a developing talent.
For the time being, I think Blue Jays need to take this move for what it is, a decision from the front office to try and give the lineup an offensive spark from the catching position. I imagine the bulk of the catching load will still fall on Jansen, but if Kirk proves he can handle big league hurlers he may even see a start or two at DH, what with so many injuries to the roster at the moment.
As long as the Blue Jays (and the rest of us) keep our expectations in check for the Mexico native, then maybe he will provide a nice little boost. With all due respect to the other catchers, he’s likely only getting this opportunity because the bar has been set so low. Don’t expect Kirk to come in and save the position in 2020, but if he can provide a spark, then maybe it’s worth a shot after all.