Blue Jays: Why Danny Jansen’s job is likely safe for now
The Blue Jays brought Alejandro Kirk off of the 60-day IL on Tuesday and sent him Triple-A. He may be back in Toronto soon, but I don’t think it’ll change Danny Jansen‘s role.
Jansen started the season as the unquestioned starting catcher despite a poor offensive performance in 2020 when he hit just .183. That said, he had proven himself as a much better hitter earlier in his career, and his defence was good enough to earn him a Gold Glove nomination in 2019.
However, the patience for Jansen’s inability to hit has started to wear thin as he’s slashing just .172/.257/.328 this season, including five home runs and 10 RBI over 122 at-bats. The Blue Jays had started to use Kirk more as the starter prior to his getting injured, and Reese McGuire is getting at least a time share with Jansen at the moment. Jansen has hit much better than he did in April, but the production still leaves a lot to be desired.
The whole situation has left a lot of Blue Jays fans speculating about which Blue Jays catcher could be on the trade block. Kirk clearly has the most long-term upside of the trio, and they also have Riley Adams as an option to serve as a reasonably capable back-up. Gabriel Moreno is also making quick strides in the minor league system, and could be ready to play in the big leagues as early as next season. Despite all of that, I still think Jansen’s job is going to be safe for the remainder of this season.
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To be fair, I don’t know that he has a lot of trade value at the moment, which is never the ideal time to deal someone. A more favourable scenario for the Blue Jays would see him play out at the rest of the season and make some significant strides at the plate, and in that case they might be able to garner some value in a return over the winter. That might give him some time to stake his claim on the job ahead of next season as well, but he’s going to have to step it up to fend off Kirk and/or Moreno going forward.
Despite the fact that I see a change in Jansen’s long-term place with the franchise, there’s still an important role for him to play in 2021. If nothing else, he’s clearly Hyun Jin Ryu‘s preferred catcher, and I’m confident that there are other pitchers that like throwing to the 26 year old receiver as well. That’s not necessarily a knock on McGuire either, who doesn’t have the same time put in with the South Korean ace.
In Ryu’s case, the southpaw struggled quite a bit while Jansen was on the Injured List. That may have been because of fatigue of his own, but just have a look at the difference between Ryu’s numbers while throwing to Jansen vs. McGuire.
Pretty significant difference, and I left Riley Adams in there as well since Ryu made two starts with him behind the plate. It’s a small sample size of throwing to McGuire as well, but even just seeing Ryu throwing to Jansen since his return from the IL, the left-hander just looks more comfortable.
It’s not uncommon for ace pitchers to have a preferred catcher, and I doubt the Blue Jays are going to want to mess with that for their 34 year old ace, at least not in 2021. It might be different if Jansen could command a big return in a trade at the moment, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. If I had to pick which catcher I think is the most likely to be dealt, I think it’s Alejandro Kirk, but I’ll leave that for another day.
For the time being, I think Jansen’s spot on the roster is going to be safe, especially now that Reese McGuire’s bat has come back down to earth. They may eventually promote Kirk again if he’s not traded, but I’d be truly surprised if it came at the expense of Jansen’s spot. Even if it’s not the role we were hoping for him in 2021, it’s still an important part of what could help this team make the playoffs this year.