Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: What if you have to choose which stars to keep?

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 08: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates a three run home run with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27, and Bo Bichette #11 in the fifth inning of their MLB game against the Texas Rangers on Opening Day at Rogers Centre on April 8, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 08: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates a three run home run with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27, and Bo Bichette #11 in the fifth inning of their MLB game against the Texas Rangers on Opening Day at Rogers Centre on April 8, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Feb 25, 2021; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catchers Alejandro Kirk (left) and Danny Jansen (right) go through drills during spring training. Mandatory Credit: Toronto Blue Jays/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

Getting the most out of an embarrassment of riches

Looking back at this season’s trade deadline, I’ll admit that I was surprised that the Blue Jays weren’t a little more aggressive. I’m sure that Ross Atkins and company were in on many of the top players that were moved ahead of Aug 2nd, but with all due respect to Whit Merrifield, Mitch White, Anthony Bass, and Zach Pop, it felt a bit underwhelming.

One of the reasons for that, at least for me, was that I had braced myself for a pretty significant trade for the Blue Jays, and likely one that included a top-tier catcher. It seemed unthinkable a few months ago, but I even wondered if the Jays would consider trading Gabriel Moreno in light of Alejandro Kirk’s breakout season. If that’s the case, Atkins and company had a major trade chip with one of Baseball America’s top prospects.

With Kirk and Danny Jansen handling duties at the highest level, the Blue Jays haven’t had the need for Moreno in the big leagues lately, even if he’s certainly MLB ready. That’s especially the case now that George Springer is active and will likely spend a fair bit of time as the designated hitter, and there are only so many starts to go around behind the plate.

That said, I can’t imagine they’ll go into another season with the same set up, even if it’s a nice luxury to have. Moreno needs to be on a big league roster in 2023, and if that’s not going to happen in Toronto then it’s worthwhile to see if they can turn a very valuable player into answers to some of the other holes on the roster.

I mentioned earlier that I’d tell you what I think the Blue Jays should do with each situation, and I’m fully aware that this is a debatable topic among the fan base. I’ll also take a bit of an early cop out on this one in particular, just in saying that the return the Blue Jays could get for each player would very much impact which one I’d trade.

The place I’d start is by seeing what Jansen could fetch on the trade market, and I mostly say that because he only has two years left of contract control before he’ll be a free agent. He’s a solid defensive catcher and he’s also shown some pop with the bat at times as well, and I’m sure there would be interested suitors.

More likely though, I think the Blue Jays are going to have to make a tough call by trading one of Kirk or Moreno this winter, at least if they want to maximize their return. I can see the argument for trading either player, and again, it’ll depend on what’s coming back to Toronto in this case, but I have to admit that I’m fascinated with the idea of what Kirk could fetch. I know that sounds borderline blasphemous, but stay with me as I explain.

I really, really like what he’s brought to the table with his bat, and also on defence. Having said that, I think it’s possible that Kirk could be at his peak value right now, especially after being named as the starting catcher for the AL All-Star team this season. I’m not at all suggesting that he couldn’t repeat the honour, but I will say that I’ll be surprised if he’s a consistent .300 hitter who could hit 25-30 home runs a year. Prior to heating up last week he had slashed just .200/.298/.220 with no home runs and just two RBI over 15 games, hitting his coldest stretch of the year. Even admitting that all players go through ups and downs over the course of a long season, it’s felt like a bit of a reality check. Of course, he’s now turned things around again lately, and it’ll be interesting to see how he finishes up a long 162 game campaign.

I know many fans were ready for the team to trade Moreno at the deadline, and I’ll concede that I had accepted the reality of the situation too, but I have to admit that I’d prefer for the Blue Jays to hang on to the 20 year old for now, and hopefully give him a big league role next year. Before that can happen, something’s gotta give though, and I think we’ll see it coming this winter.

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