The battle for Blue Jays' third string catcher has a runaway leader as the regular season nears

Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day
Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

One of the more surprising and impressive developments in spring training for the Toronto Blue Jays is the level of play by new catcher Brian Serven. The veteran was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs in January to have him compete for a depth role, likely with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. 

The 28-year-old has taken that challenge head-on and has a terrific chance to enter the season as the No. 3 catcher on the organization’s depth chart. Obviously, with Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen, the Jays’ have one of the premier catching duos in the majors, but having a quality option that can be called upon in case of injury is of great value to the club.

The health of Kirk and, especially Jansen, has been shaky over the past few years. Tyler Heineman was third in the catcher hierarchy over the past two seasons and got into 29 games during that span. The journeyman filled in admirably by hitting .273 with a 0.4 bWAR in his limited playing time. Heineman doesn’t possess much extra-base power, a skill Serven has been showing in abundance lately. 

The Arizona State product has flashed a mighty swing in Grapefruit League action. He’s hit two doubles, two homers, and driven in 10 runs in only 13 at-bats. Serven has spent the last two seasons with the Colorado Rockies and demonstrated some thump in 2022 with six home runs in 187 ABs. 

Although he saw much less playing time in 2023, Serven showed an improved ability to throw out potential base stealers. After throwing out 10 of 51 (19.6%) in his first campaign, the former fifth-round pick nabbed five of 12 (42%) runners a year ago, despite the bigger bases.

Serven knows he’s not going to make the Opening Day roster. Right now he’s not even on the 40-man, but the team could do a lot worse than have him serve (get it?) as the primary backstop in Buffalo and the first option as a call-up if needed.