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Blue Jays have at least one catcher to use as trade bait

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays taps gloves with Reese McGuire #70 who helped him warm up the pitcher before the start of the next inning during MLB game action against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre on September 25, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays taps gloves with Reese McGuire #70 who helped him warm up the pitcher before the start of the next inning during MLB game action against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre on September 25, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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As the Blue Jays look to improve their roster this off-season, they’ll likely have at least one catcher to offer up on the trade market.

The Blue Jays started the 2020 campaign with two talented young catchers that looked like they were ready to take over full-time duties, and Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire were set to battle for playing time. Unfortunately it really didn’t work out like that.

Both young receivers flashed a ton of potential in 2019, but the production didn’t carry into this past season for either of them. McGuire finished the campaign with a slash line of .073/.073/.146 over just 41 at-bats, as he was sent back to the taxi squad in early September and never made his way back. Jansen was only marginally better, slashing .183/.313/.358 over 120 at-bats, good for a positive 0.5 bWAR to McGuire’s -0.5 rating.

You shouldn’t write off a young player after one season, especially a shortened 60-game schedule like we saw this year. That said, I’m pretty confident that the Blue Jays would be a lot more willing to trade McGuire, or even Jansen, after the way the 2020 season went. Their struggles certainly work against them, especially in McGuire’s case, but there are other factors at play.

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The most significant of which would be the presence of Alejandro Kirk, who had a very successful stint over the last few weeks of the season. He’s shown himself as an offensive threat, providing a confident and competent bat in the lineup despite being just 21 years old, and never having played above A-ball prior to this year. It’s possible the Blue Jays could return Kirk to the minor leagues to start the 2021 season, mostly for the sake of working on his defence, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t back in Toronto at some point and it may even be from day one.

I don’t know that I believe that the Jays will hand Kirk the starting reigns in 2021, at least not quite yet, which is why I don’t think they’d trade Jansen unless the offer was too good to turn down. As for McGuire, my guess is the Jays would be more than fine with letting him go in favour of their other in-house options, and could use him as part of a trade package to acquire an upgrade for the pitching staff. His trade value wouldn’t be as high as it was a year ago, but there would still be interest I’m sure.

The Blue Jays have some additional catching talent in their pipeline, and it’s possible that they’d be open to using it for a trade as well. According to MLB.com’s top 30 prospect list for the Blue Jays, they have two more that we haven’t seen at the big league level yet in Gabriel Moreno at #8, and Riley Adams at #22, with Kirk rating at #6. The Jays are said to be very high on Moreno, who is just 20 years old, but in order to make an impact trade, such as adding a top of the rotation starter, they’re going to have to include a premium prospect or two. I wondered if it could happen this year when Moreno was added to the player pool, but nothing came to fruition that way.

It’s an area of the strength for the organization, even if the results weren’t what we wanted to see in 2020. That said, it feels like the decision about which catcher is expendable between Jansen and McGuire was answered this year. That could certainly change over the course of their respective careers, but for now Jansen feels like the better bet going forward. If Kirk is ready to take over next season or even by 2022, Jansen could even find himself in more of a part-time role. It’s a good problem to have.

At some point the Blue Jays will have to make a few decisions with some of their prospects, and while he has some experience at the MLB level, McGuire can still be looked at in that category. There is an argument to be made for bringing him back and letting him raise his trade value, there’s no guarantee that will happen. My guess is the Jays will look to use McGuire as trade bait this off-season, and the same could happen to Moreno in an impact trade.

Next. Five things to look forward to in 2021. dark

After a successful 2020 campaign, I expect that Ross Atkins and company will be very busy on the trade market this winter, and don’t be surprised if catching is one area they use to improve another.

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