A team that is familiar with the Blue Jays and their fanbase, the Cleveland Guardians are an organization that could be looking to upgrade at the catcher position this offseason.
Cleveland used three different catchers this campaign in Wilson Ramos (picked up off waivers from Detroit midway through the year), Roberto Perez, and Austin Hedges. Ramos heads to free agency this winter on the heels of his third ACL-related injury, something that puts his future as a catcher certainly in jeopardy while both Perez and Hedges struggled in 2021. Perez did spend some considerable time on the IL, posting a .564 OPS through 141 at-bats while Hedges carried a bulk of the catching duties but fared no better, posting a .178/.220/.308 slash line with a .527 OPS through 286 at-bats.
Both catchers are on the books until the end of next season before becoming free agents but the team could look to trade one of their biggest assets to try and bolster the organization in multiple areas.
The Blue Jays inquired about third baseman Jose Ramirez this past trade deadline but the two sides were unable to strike a deal. If the club is looking to improve at the catching position and acquire some other players/prospects, trading with the Blue Jays and including Alejandro Kirk makes sense on both sides of the coin.
The Toronto Blue Jays have three catchers who are major league caliber but could be used as trade bait this offseason to bolster the rest of the roster.
I personally don’t believe Cleveland would be too interested in Jansen and would rather acquire Kirk, who is a power threat and has more club control. Kirk alone will not get the deal done, as the Jays will have to add a few more players/prospects to get Cleveland to come anywhere close to moving Ramirez and his team-friendly contract. Kirk could be someone the future Guardians could be really interested in as an upgrade over Perez or Hedges and carries some considerable value.
There are quite a few different combinations the Blue Jays and Cleveland could hash out to try and get any deal done but with a surplus of catching in the organization, I don’t see how the Jays don’t try and include Kirk or Jansen. It would be tough to part with Kirk for sure but Ramirez would be such an upgrade on the roster that the deal makes sense if the club is serious about contending for the postseason over the next few seasons.
The one hiccup to any potential deal involving a Blue Jays backstop would be how much Cleveland values catching prospect Bo Naylor and whether they prefer to have him try and gain some ground next season behind home plate over an outside source like Kirk or Jansen. Only time will tell on this one.