When it comes to having something to prove next season, in fairness to Alejandro Kirk, not all of this is on him. The Blue Jays increased the pressure on both the player and the organisation itself, with their previous decision to trade away top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno.
Moreno went on to have a breakout year in 2023, as he produced a slash line of .284/.339/.408 and .747 OPS in 111 games. He also did his part come playoff time, helping the Arizona Diamondbacks make it all the way to the World Series.
Back to Kirk, he had his own breakout year back in 2022, with 14 homers, 63 RBI and 63 walks, contributing towards a .285/.372/.415 slash line and .786 OPS. As a result, he earned his first All-Star selection and inaugural Silver Slugger Award, arguably contributing towards the decision to move Moreno.
Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the 25-year-old took a step back this past season. He dropped down essentially across the board offensively, with eight home runs, 43 RBI, 42 walks, a .250/.334/.358 slash line and .692 OPS.
It didn't help that these numbers also compared unfavorably to what Moreno was doing in Arizona, with critics arguing the Blue Jays got rid of the wrong catcher. It should be noted Kirk was third-best with a 1.7 dWAR among all Major League catchers, but even here he trailed behind Moreno, who led the way with a 3.1 dWAR.
Unsurprisingly, president Mark Shapiro still believes the trade was a good one. (We'll be getting to the other crucial part of the Blue Jays' deal with the Diamondbacks in due course.) As relayed by Sportsnet, Shapiro said; "You can't evaluate a trade in the short term. You've got to give it four or five years, to understand whether a trade was effective or not."
How much fans and baseball media alike may want to get on board with Shaprio's take, is open to debate. Regardless, what we do know is that Kirk -- unfairly also burdened with being in tandem with an injury-prone Danny Jansen -- needs to be more consistent in 2024.