*Update: When acquired by the Blue Jays, Zack Collins was already optioned to the Minor Leagues by the White Sox. While the Jays currently have him optioned to Buffalo, he can be recalled and still make the Opening Day roster as confirmed by Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith*
Heading into the 2022 season, the Toronto Blue Jays were in the same situation that they had last year when it came to their catching core: three competent players but not enough playing time to go around.
Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk made the team out of Spring Training last year and Reese McGuire was DFA’d prior to Opening Day but he slipped through the waiver wire. Injuries to both Jansen and Kirk in late April/early May meant the club needed McGuire back on the active roster and the former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect ended up with the most games behind the plate with 73 appearances.
In a bit of a twist by Ross Atkins and co., the club decided to ship McGuire off to the Chicago White Sox earlier this week, acquiring left-batting catcher Zack Collins in a trade that puzzled a few fans. Looking at the bigger picture, Collins has a Minor League option at his disposal while McGuire did not, meaning if the club decided to run with only two catchers, they risked sending him through the waiver wire again and potentially losing him for nothing.
Newly acquired catcher Zack Collins has been optioned to the Buffalo Bisons as per the Toronto Blue Jays’ official transactions page
Evidently, it appears that the Blue Jays front office did not have confidence that McGuire would sneak through unclaimed, as quite a few clubs would benefit from the defensive-minded catcher who threw out 35% of base stealers last season in a backup capacity. This move isn’t necessarily groundbreaking by any means but after Kirk and Jansen both hit the IL last season, the club added Collins as some depth behind the plate so that top prospect Gabriel Moreno would not have to be called upon too soon should injuries plague the catching corps early into the season.
The big question still remained, however: will the Blue Jays bring Collins to Toronto as part of the Opening Day roster?
There is a spot open on the bench with the expanded 28-man rosters for the month of April and he is already on the 40-man roster, so there wouldn’t necessarily have to be any outside moves made (no DFA’s of the sort). In the same breath, he does have the MiLB option and could be sent to AAA and called upon if needed, meaning the club could bring in a different player to occupy the bench.
Gosuke Katoh, Raimel Tapia, and Santiago Espinal/Cavan Biggio are already on the bench while Kirk and Jansen split catching duties (with Kirk slotting in at the DH position), meaning the club can carry one more bench player while running with 15 pitchers to start the month of April (13 position players essentially).
That now appears to be put to rest as the Blue Jays’ official transactions page has Zack Collins being optioned down to the Buffalo Bisons to begin the season, meaning it looks like the club will be running with just two catchers in Kirk and Jansen.
Now the question changes: who will the club bring as the last bench player to begin the season?