The Toronto Blue Jays have the luxury of enjoying extraordinary depth at one of the most critical positions in baseball, catcher.
With Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and top prospect, Gabriel Moreno, who looked like he belonged during a one-month cameo earlier in the season, the team has an embarrassment of riches behind the plate.
The trio can combine to boost the Jays down the stretch, but the organization will likely have a tough decision to make in the offseason. Here are some scenarios of what they could do to address the surplus this Winter.
Blue Jays Offseason Catchers, Option #1, trade Danny Jansen
The 2022 season seemed like the year it was all coming together for Danny Jansen. He came up with big hits throughout the opening series against Texas and appeared to be breaking out in a big way offensively.
Then, unfortunately, injuries struck. First, a left oblique strain suffered during that first series that kept Jansen on the shelf until mid-May. Then, after returning and hitting five homers in his next 49 at-bats, Danny was drilled by a pitch and fractured his finger.
He returned to the team on July 12th and has continued to be productive, if a streaky hitter. D.J. has hit 11 home runs in just 147 at-bats, an average of one per 13 times at the plate. His HR% is 6.5, twice the MLB average of 3.2. Perhaps the most impressive stat for Jansen is the team’s record in the games he’s played in, 35-15.
Jansen will be arbitration eligible again in 2023 and will turn 28 next April. Trading him seems like the most feasible option, but he provides valuable leadership and is one of the team’s longest-serving members, debuting back in 2018.
He wouldn’t generate the most significant return unless packaged with other assets in a mega-deal and the club would have to consider if it’s okay with handing the catching duties over full-time to the 23-year-old Kirk and the 22-year-old Moreno.
Blue Jays Offseason Catchers, Option #2, trade Gabriel Moreno
This seems unlikely. Moreno is the Blue Jays’ highest-ranked prospect since Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and he looked sharp when pressed into action for 18 games over June and July.
Moreno threw out five of 14 runners attempting to steal, and also showed above-average contact skills (16-58, .276 BA), as well as some solid base-running. He’s part of a new-look group of young catchers, along with guys like Francisco Mejía and Rafael Marchán, who use their agility and athleticism to give them an edge.
There’s no doubt that making Moreno available in a trade would generate buzz and plenty of offers. If the team does decide to go ahead with the young catching duo of Kirk and Moreno, how the backstop duties are divided will be an ongoing topic of fascination.
Blue Jays Offseason Catchers, Option #3 trade Alejandro Kirk
There’s no way, right?! The only way I could see the Blue Jays moving on from Kirk is if they believe he has maxed out on his abilities and is incapable of repeating himself.
There’s been no indication that’s the case, especially given Kirk’s workload of late. He recently caught three days in a row for the first time and has heated up in September, hitting .409 (9-22) in five games.
Kirk has excellent numbers in catching framing stats, ranking in the top six in catcher framing runs and strike rate. He excels at getting strike calls that are low in the zone. He has even improved as a base-runner despite his below-average speed.
Kirk is not as demonstrative a leader as Jansen is and often will give pitchers the opportunity to work out of jams themselves rather than use a mound visit to figure out a different plan of attack.
There are varying styles of effective leadership, however, and with vocal presences like George Springer and Matt Chapman already in place, Kirk’s calm and steady influence may be the perfect compliment.