One of the Blue Jays’ current areas of strength may be the starting point for a big deal in the upcoming season.
The active roster currently boasts three Major League calibre catchers in Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, and Reese McGuire, with top prospect Gabriel Moreno most likely making his big league debut sometime this season. With such a crowded crop of players behind the plate, it only makes sense that the Jays front office capitalizes on the opportunity and uses this strength to improve other areas on the squad.
Jansen’s stock has dipped with his recent play and McGuire is more of a backup compared to an everyday player but Kirk is the one player with the most value amongst the group when looking at factors such as play on both sides of the field and contract status.
After a cup of coffee with the club in 2020, Kirk returned to the Jays roster for Opening Day last season but missed a couple of months with a hip injury. The righty-hitting slugger did suit up in 60 games last year but his .242/.328/.436 slash line was a little lower than what most fans were hoping/expecting from the Mexico product. He would eventually finish with a .764 OPS, eight home runs, and 24 RBI through 165 at-bats but did post strong walk vs. strikeout stats at 19 and 22 respectively. Looking at his contract status under the previous CBA, Kirk is not eligible for free agency until after the 2026 campaign. This could obviously change once a new CBA is in place but he should still have some sizeable contract control once the new agreement is set in stone.
It’s no secret that Kirk brings the most value to the table when it comes to trades and was rumoured to be the centrepiece of a deal at the trade deadline last year that would have seen Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez head to Toronto. Ultimately, Toronto decided against the deal and Kirk remained on the roster. Holding onto the catcher to begin the year might make the most sense given Moreno may spend a month or two in AAA and that time may bolster Kirk’s value even more, but it’s a gamble the Jays are familiar back to the Donaldson trade back in 2018.
The Ramirez deal could be revisited once the lockout is over as the switch-hitting third baseman would be an absolutely perfect fit for the Jays but the package surrounding Kirk is the biggest hold up at the moment. Even if the Ramirez deal cannot be reignited, with the depth the Jays have at the catching position, it only makes sense that the front office would explore moving Kirk again for an impact player at the Major League level.