The Blue Jays have a significant opportunity to improve their 2023 roster by trading one of their three coveted catchers, but it won't be an easy decision.
If you spend time among the Blue Jays community on social media, then no doubt you've come across a wide range of opinions about what the team should do. Some believe it's best to trade Gabriel Moreno, others think it should be Alejandro Kirk, and probably the biggest contingent believes that Danny Jansen should be on the block. For today, I thought I'd talk about the case for Jansen being the receiver that is used to improve another area of the roster.
Jansen has spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, but unfortunately injuries have limited him to just 323 games throughout that stretch. Last season was no exception as he spent time on the Injured List on two different occasions and only played in 72 games. He made the most of his opportunities with a career season, especially at the plate with the bat in his hands, but injuries have been a real part of his MLB story so far. In fact, I'm surprised fans don't talk about that a little more.
Not that I think injury history is even close to being the biggest reason that the Blue Jays could trade Jansen rather than Kirk or Moreno. The most significant reason in my mind is the fact that he has just two years left of contract control and will be a free agent at the end of the 2024 season. That's still two valuable years to have him in a Jays uniform, and it's also possible the team could extend him beyond that, but with other talented and cheaper catching options in the organization it's understandable that they could consider a future without him.
Speaking of his contract, he will also be the most expensive of the trio in 2023. His salary won't be all that big, as spotrac.com has him estimated for roughly 3.6 million next season, but that's more than Kirk or Moreno will make by a long shot at they would be playing on pre-arbitration contracts in 2023. It's not a lot of extra budget room, but that money could be allocated to another area of the team, such as finding the budget to bring in another outfielder, or address the starting rotation. In theory there should still be payroll space to do those things, but an extra 2-3 million to work with never hurts.
More than anything though, the biggest reason the Blue Jays could trade Danny Jansen now is because he's arguably at an all-time high as far as his trade value. The closer he gets to free agency the more that value will drop, but he's also coming off a fantastic season when he was able to play, and one where he slashed .260/.339/.516 with 15 home runs and 44 RBI in just 215 at-bats. It felt like something clicked for the 27 year old last year, and I'm a believer that he'll continue to be an asset to any lineup that he's penciled into. No doubt there are several catcher-needy teams out there that are thinking along the same lines.
Trading Jansen probably takes a significantly smaller return for the Blue Jays than moving Kirk or Moreno would as well, and that's a real factor in all of this. As much as Blue Jays fans can dream about making a blockbuster to acquire All-Star level talent, other teams are reluctant to trade players of that calibre, and getting a deal across the finish line is no easy task.
All things considered the offseason is still pretty young, and don't be surprised if it still takes a while before the Blue Jays make their big moves of the winter. When they do though, don't be surprised if Jansen ends up being the catcher playing in another uniform next season.