The Toronto Blue Jays sit in a position that not many clubs find themselves in – they have three catchers who could find themselves on the active roster and one catching prospect potentially ready for his debut next season as well.
Since his late-season call-up in 2018, Danny Jansen was given the opportunity to take charge behind the plate and run away with the starting catcher role when Russell Martin was traded. While his defensive play has been impressive, his bat has struggled to hit for consistency at the major league level. His career .212/.298/.396 line and .694 OPS are not eye-popping numbers by any means but his 24% runners caught stealing percentage is just under league average, heavily influenced by his rough 2018 numbers where he only caught 15% of base stealers.
Next, there is Reese McGuire, the left-handed batter who found himself in some hot water back in 2020 and was dropped from the 40-man roster early this season, only to bounce back when the other catchers were on the IL and the club needed him back with the Blue Jays. He did post the best caught stealing percentage amongst the trio at 35% but also the lowest OPS at .654.
Lastly, there is Alejandro Kirk, the Blue Jays power-hitting catcher who draws the ire of Buck Martinez every time he puts his knee down behind the plate. The 2021 campaign was going to be his year to shine after his brief but explosive sample size to finish off the 2020 season but a hip injury saw the right-handed batter land on the IL in early May and finishing the year with just 189 plate appearances in 60 games. He also had the lowest caught-stealing percentage amongst the group at 17%.
The Toronto Blue Jays have multiple catchers who can play in the big leagues, with the potential for the front office to trade one of them this offseason.
That being said, each player is still under contract for next season and all three are on the 40-man roster as of right now. I would think that not all three catchers will break camp with the club this upcoming season and the front office could potentially move one of them if the right deal arises.
Kirk brings the most value of the group given his power and contract status (free agent in 2027) while Jansen does have the most experience although less than stellar career offensive stats. McGuire is out of options so he cannot be sent to the minor leagues without being exposed to waivers and I’m not too sure he would pass through without getting selected again. The lefty batter does have some value but Kirk would be the best trade chip depending on the asset in question.
If the Blue Jays want to go after a big fish like Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez, Kirk is one player the club could include (amongst others) to get any type of traction on a deal done. There are other trade candidates out there that the club could use Kirk for but any deal that involves the 5’8″ catcher will most likely draw the ire of many Blue Jays fans.
Considering McGuire is out of options, he could find himself on the trade block considering his chances of making the roster are slim unless the club chooses to bring three catchers back on the roster. Might as well get something out of nothing, even if the trade isn’t a blockbuster on the headlines and the potential to lose him via waivers after Spring Training.
On the fence about trading a catcher?
Factor in that the Blue Jays top prospect, catcher Gabriel Moreno, could very well find himself on the radar for a callup to the Major Leagues sometime next season after the year he had in AA. After a hot start to the season that saw the righty-batter slash .373/.441/.651 with eight home runs, 45 RBI, and a 1.092 OPS, a fractured thumb in late June saw him sitting on the IL for over two months and saw him play only a handful of games at the AAA level to finish the year.
Without the injury, Moreno would have most likely been promoted to Buffalo a lot sooner than his late-season call-up and could have gained some experience that could have put him on the radar for a big league debut sooner than later.
With Moreno coming up the pipeline, should the Blue Jays look to deal one of their catchers this offseason? If so, who should they trade?
*The original publication had the incorrect slash line for Danny Jansen. This has since been fixed*