Blue Jays: What should the team do when Alejandro Kirk comes off the IL?

Apr 30, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk (30) hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk (30) hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

If you were to ask Blue Jays fans who they thought would be catching for the Blue Jays midway through the season, you probably wouldn’t find many who would say Reese McGuire and Riley Adams.

With starting catcher Danny Jansen and top prospect Alejandro Kirk both on the injured list (IL), the Blue Jays have had to dip into their catching depth charts to fulfill the needs on the active roster. Adams has struggled a bit to adjust to major league pitching so far while McGuire is performing well early, leading some to question if the production from the lefty-hitter is sustainable for the length of the season.

While Jansen has been questioned as to whether or not he is the team’s starting catcher of the future given his inability to hit for consistency, another question remains on what the Blue Jays plan to do when Kirk returns from the IL this season, given the scenario that has presented itself with their absence.

The Toronto Blue Jays have a few catchers on the injured list right now, and while Alejandro Kirk won the backup job out of Spring Training, it might be wise to keep him in the minor leagues after his rehab assignment.

Fans may not like Jansen’s .157/.248/.278 slash line but when he is healthy and ready to go, he is most likely coming back to the active roster and Adams will head back down to AAA. Although he has struggled as of late, I personally can’t see the front office or manager Charlie Montoyo giving up on Jansen just yet. Jansen should be returning to the roster most likely in the next week or two.

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While Kirk has yet to participate in any rehab games since going on the 60-day IL back in early May, the Blue Jays have the slugger down in extended spring training where he is getting at-bats and back into game shape. The next step in his development will most likely be a move to AAA on a rehab assignment, but will the club bring him back up to the roster when he is eligible to come off the IL in early July?

While this question might have been easier to answer a few weeks ago, the recent emergence of Reese McGuire is making the situation a little murkier.

So far this season, the former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect has gone from being designated for assignment earlier this year to one of the most productive catchers on the team with his .321/.361/.449 slash line and .810 OPS. Having played in thirty games with both Jansen and Kirk missing time, McGuire is showing the front office and the fan base that he should get another look at the major league level by taking full advantage of the situation.

What doesn’t help this problem is that Kirk wasn’t necessarily producing before heading to the IL, slashing .225/.326/.475 through 17 games, failing to record a hit until his seventh game of the season (it should be considered that he had one game where he was a defensive replacement and didn’t record an at-bat). He does have some power off the bat, evident by his three home runs through 46 plate appearances, but the slow start mixed with the strong performance by McGuire starts to raise questions that I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting to have to consider as the season heads towards the All-Star break.

With McGuire playing well and the Jays appearing to still have faith in Jansen behind the plate, Kirk will most likely be staying in AAA when his rehab assignment is complete.

It would be absurd to carry three catchers on the roster (especially since none of them really play a secondary position) and right now, McGuire is a left-handed bat that just keeps putting the ball in play and is calling good games and throwing well behind the plate. If McGuire was playing poorly then I would say bring Kirk back up and see if he can find a way to bring up the slash line, but it doesn’t make sense to send down a player who is riding a hot streak right now.

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The best thing for Kirk is to head back down to AAA and find the same form that impressed the club similar to how they promoted him to the majors last season when he hadn’t played an inning over A-ball.

If McGuire starts to cool off or the Jays really can’t stand Jansen and his at-bats anymore, then Kirk could be considered for a promotion. In this scenario, it makes more sense to have Kirk earn his way back to the major leagues rather than risk him having a rough start post IL and eventually sending him back down to AAA anyway.