Should the Blue Jays add Gabriel Moreno to the postseason roster?
This season saw the debut of Blue Jays’ top prospect Gabriel Moreno, the consensus #1 prospect in the organization for this season and a good portion of last. The Venezuelan-born Moreno has worked his way up through the Minor Leagues since 2017 and has spent all season in AAA, a move that likely could have come sooner had he not suffered a thumb injury last year that limited him to just 37 games.
He posted strong numbers with the Buffalo Bisons on the year, authoring a .315/.386/.420 with nine extra-base hits and 39 RBI to the tune of a .806 OPS. Behind the plate, Moreno continued to flash his athleticism, posting a perfect 1.000% fielding percentage with six past balls while throwing out 41% of base stealers.
With his strong play and an injury to Danny Jansen, Moreno found his way to the active roster in mid-June and got into some MLB games, appearing in 18 contests and accumulating 58 at-bats. His OPS was on the low side at .593 but he posted a .276 batting average before heading back down to AAA when playing time started to dry up with Jansen’s return.
With rosters expanding in September to 28 players, Moreno would rejoin the squad on September 7th and has been with the team ever since, being used mostly in a bench capacity.
He finally got into a game eight days later and finished the year mostly as a defensive replacement. Moreno did however get into the last two games of the campaign during Wednesday’s doubleheader against Baltimore, putting forth a valiant effort to be included on the playoff roster by going 4-7 on the day with three RBI and his first home run with the Blue Jays, an opposite-field shot off Orioles right-hander Michael Baumann.
Behind the plate, Moreno came as advertised: a .993 fielding percentage with zero passed balls while posting a 41% caught stealing percentage (the exact same as AAA), throwing out seven baserunners on 17 attempts. He also posted a 1.92-second pop time behind the plate, rivalling veteran big leaguers and sitting 10th on the leaderboards and just .1 seconds behind leader J.T. Realmuto. Interestingly enough, the Jays also used him in a variety of positions during the second doubleheader, giving him reps at second base, third base, and left field. He had practiced at the positions during his time with the Jays but never really played the positions other than a brief appearance at the hot corner last year.
Does Gabriel Moreno crack the Blue Jays playoff roster?
Overall, the Blue Jays have not been opposed to having three catchers on the MLB roster and considering Moreno has shown he can play other positions if needed (albeit with limited professional experience from behind the plate), the 22-year-old did make a strong case for John Schneider to be included on the playoff roster. His bat has been playing well as of late and could be the right-handed bat the Jays need off the bench, the biggest question will be if there is enough space for him on the roster when they face the Seattle Mariners in the AL Wild Card.
The squad already has a plethora of bench options in Bradley Zimmer, Cavan Biggio, Jackie Bradley Jr., Raimel Tapia, one catcher (Kirk/Jansen), and Otto Lopez, who is also fighting for a playoff spot. Factor in the imminent return of Santiago Espinal and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from injury stints, and the spots become even more limited as the roster shrinks back down to 26. If the Jays were to take the current group above minus Lopez, the Jays would head into the postseason with 13 position players and 13 pitchers. The Jays could gain a roster spot by leaving additional pitchers off the squad, especially since they don’t need a full five-man rotation given the game spacing in the playoffs, but having additional bullpen arms could come in handy over additional bench pieces.
I think the Jays would benefit from having Moreno on the bench but unless the club is willing to leave one of the outfielders off the roster as well as potentially another pitcher (depending on the bench situation), his chances appear to be limited. Playoff rosters need to be finalized by 10 am EST today, so we shall know more soon.