On Friday, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo shared on X that the New York Mets have claimed catcher off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. Suddenly, the Jays have lost their third-string catcher. Only Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk remain on the 40-man roster behind the plate. Heineman played an important role in 2023 each time one of Kirk or Jansen needed to be placed on the injured list.
Over the 29 games in which he suited up for the ballclub, Heineman put up a respectable .273 batting average, a .771 OPS, along with 6 runs scored, 4 extra-base hits, 4 RBI, 7 walks and 11 strikeouts. More importantly, he gave the Jays someone they could depend on to provide a steady presence behind the plate without having to overburden the top catcher on the depth chart with a heavy workload.
Overall, the journeyman had spent parts of four MLB seasons with the Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Jays, but was never able to secure a permanent starting role with any of the teams. In his career, he has hit .218 with a .579 OPS, 25 runs scored, 11 doubles, a home run, and 15 RBI in just 104 games played. In joining the Mets, with Francisco Alvarez firmly in the starting role and Omar Narváez likely the backup, Heineman will once again serve strictly as depth behind the dish for the organization.
For the Jays, they will now have an extra need to address this offseason with regards to their catching depth. Unless the team truly believes in what they have currently at Triple-A Buffalo or are willing to take the chance on an unproven rookie from the lower ranks in their minor league system, look for the Jays to be in search for an insurance veteran catcher by the start of the 2024 season.
On the free agent market, Tucker Barnhardt, Martin Maldonado, Gary Sanchez, Victor Caratini, Mitch Garver and Austin Hedges represent the best-available names out there; but none of them feel destined to be a club's third-string catcher.
Perhaps someone like Jamie Ritchie, who spent last year in the high minors for the Jays and is still unsigned, could be brought back; or Max McDowell, who the Jays just recently brought back on a minors deal could take over the spot in 2024.