Looking at the Blue Jays’ current roster, both Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk are performing well behind the plate and in the batter’s box. The club’s catchers boast a 124 WRC+ which ranks them third in the league while they also sit in the top five of numerous offensive categories, including OBP, SLG, and fWAR.
While Jansen did miss a significant portion of the early schedule and Kirk took a few weeks to get going, they are both sitting pretty right now. Jansen has been swinging a hot bat and has six home runs through 15 games this season while Kirk had a fantastic road trip and has hit to a .476 batting average through his last seven games, highlighted by his two home runs last night against the White Sox.
What makes this situation even more interesting is the fact that the Blue Jays’ top prospect Gabriel Moreno is also a catcher, a name that many fans are patiently waiting to see make his way to the Rogers Centre sometime this season.
Moreno is crushing it in AAA, owning a .331/.388/.424 slash line with one home run, 22 RBI, and a .812 OPS. He has 10 walks on the year compared to 22 strikeouts and has also added eight doubles on the season with two strikeouts. Behind the plate, Moreno’s rocket arm is on display once again, throwing out 50% of base stealers while sporting a clean 1.000 field percentage with just three passed balls. The Venezuelan product has nine hits through his last six games and looks to be ready for the Major Leagues with each passing day.
The Blue Jays boast a strong catching corps in Jansen and Kirk, with top prospect Gabriel Moreno waiting in the wings for his MLB debut.
Considering the Blue Jays’ current catching corps of Jansen and Kirk is performing so well, when should fans be expecting to see Moreno called up to the big league roster?
This is where it gets a bit complicated.
Having three catchers on the roster is obviously not the most ideal bench strategy but with the way Kirk and Jansen are hitting the ball right now, each player could continue to get regular playing time in the DH spot if one of the other players is catching or either on the bench.
This keeps all three players rested but still juggles the catching trio enough to get the bats some playing time as well. Moreno also can play third base if absolutely necessary, but with only three games throughout his Minor League career at the hot corner, he wouldn’t be the go-to option unless needed or if he gets some more work once called up. The Blue Jays can navigate with having three catchers especially if Cavan Biggio is playing well and can be utilized in the super-utility role, playing across the diamond and in the outfield as necessary.
Another idea the Jays could explore would be to trade one of their catchers, something that would be very tough to embrace but could net a high return if the right partner is found. I would argue that Moreno and Kirk have the most value given their contract control and upside at the plate but Jansen has raised his value compared to this past offseason, so it is an avenue to explore if the front office is looking to improve other areas with some of their catching depth. I would imagine that this would be met with some less than enthused reactions but it is an area of depth that Ross Atkins can work from.
Now, to the prediction.
One thing to consider is that by June 20th, the Blue Jays must only have 13 pitchers on the active roster. This date has been bumped twice already but I would fathom a guess that this most recent date change is probably the last considering how long the season will have progressed come mid-June. This would require one of the current bullpen arms to be sent down and would give an opportunity for a position player from the minors to be pulled up. Considering Moreno is already on the 40-man roster, this makes an ideal switch that much more likely.
There are obviously a lot of factors in play that could change this prediction, such as an injury to the active roster or a trade as mentioned earlier, but if everything stays par for the course, I would put some bets down that the mid-June is the ideal time for the club to call up their top prospect and run with the three catchers once again.