Blue Jays: How a new CBA could increase one player’s value

Apr 2, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins speaks to the media during a press conference against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins speaks to the media during a press conference against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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MLB remains in a lockout as we near the end of the year, but assuming they can reach a deal at some point in the next couple of months, a new CBA could be beneficial for the Blue Jays depending on how things work out.

That could be the case in a few different ways, but I could see it making Ross Atkins’ life a little easier as far as pulling off a significant trade. I say that because of one of the rumoured points of negotiation for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is the strong possibility that we’ll see a universal designated hitter used in both leagues going forward. If that new wrinkle is added to the big leagues and NL pitchers no longer have to hit for themselves, I believe that could raise the value of one Blue Jay in particular.

The player I have in mind is Alejandro Kirk, who appeared in 60 games for the Blue Jays in 2021 around a fair bit of time spent on the Injured List. When he was active the then-22 year old was another weapon for the lineup with the bat in his hands, slashing .242/.328/.436 with eight home runs, eight doubles, and 24 RBI over just 165 at-bats. For such a young player, and one who had such limited experience in the minor leagues before his debut in late-2020, the Mexican backstop is a real asset as a hitter.

I’m not sure I’d say the same for his defensive work, and that’s not necessarily a criticism. As I mentioned, he’s very young (he just turned 23 in November), and he really didn’t get a lot of time to develop his defence in the minor leagues, mostly thanks to how the pandemic wiped out the 2020 MiLB season. I believe that we saw improvement through this past season, and I expect that will continue as he gains experience at the highest level. It’s not that I think he can’t be a good receiver or doesn’t have upside that way now, I just see him as an unfinished product with the glove.

In the immediate term, I would argue that Kirk may be best used as a DH/catching hybrid, which is a role that he could play for the Blue Jays in 2022 and beyond. That said, I’m not sure that the Jays necessarily want to carry three catchers on the roster, even if they planned on using Kirk regularly as the DH. We’ve also talked about the glut of catching talent in Toronto a lot this offseason here at Jays Journal as well, including Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and the impending arrival of Gabriel Moreno, which will likely happen at some point in 2022.

Because of that depth and my belief that Moreno will likely be the long-term answer at the catching position for the Blue Jays, I’ve long viewed Kirk as a talented but expendable piece of the puzzle. Catching isn’t a very deep position across the league right now, and there are plenty of teams that would love to have any of the Blue Jays’ trio of MLB catchers, let alone a prospect like Moreno. And since the Jays will likely still be in the market for at least another infielder and some more pitching depth, it’s not hard to see them using some of that catching depth to improve another part of the roster.

Getting back to Kirk, I believe that a universal DH raises his trade value, or at the very least expands his market. Now the majority of the league could theoretically use him in the kind of role I described, rather than the National League not having the option to keep his talented bat in the lineup unless he’s behind the plate as well. If the Jays might be willing or even looking to use Kirk as a centrepiece of a trade, this can only help.

Next. A trade candidate we've stopped talking about. dark

Of course, this is all just in theory and it’s entirely possible that the Blue Jays have zero intentions of trading Alejandro Kirk this offseason. It’s also possible that a universal DH won’t be in place when a new CBA gets hammered out, although I do expect that to happen. Regardless, I can’t wait until this lockout ends and the Blue Jays can get back to trying to improve an already talented and dangerous roster.