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With the World Series over it is now time to turn back the focus onto the Blue Jays. One of the biggest questions this off season is what to do with the catching situation. Let's debate the possibilities.

Option 1 - Keep all three

The Jays could send Moreno back down to AAA to start the season to ensure he gets adequate playing time. Catchers do tend to get injured so you need to have a third catcher on your 40 man roster. While keeping Moreno in AAA is an option, at some stage, if he is as good as projected, he will stagnate against AAA players. Whether there are injuries or not we should assume that Moreno would need to be recalled at some stage. This option is the non decision option, you buy time and have a good backup in AAA. But if and when he is recalled, the Jays may again have three catchers on their roster and they all won't get enough playing time.

There is also the option to keep Moreno on the roster and use him in other positions. He played 2B, 3B and left field at the end of the season. I don't think this is a realistic option. Moreno might be a good athlete but he hasn't played in any of those positions other than brief cameos. Its not reasonable to expect a player to learn how to play a position at the major league level, particularly if the team is in a win now mode. It's also questionable whether Moreno can hit at the level expected of a major league left fielder or third baseman. Those are normally power positions.


Option 2 - Trade Danny Jansen

The first reason to trade Jansen is that you have an excess of catchers. But the more relevant reason is that he will be the most expensive in 2023. MLBTR projects Jansen to earn $3.7M in 2023. Jansen will earn even more in 2024 and be a free agent after that year. The Jays are close to being maxed out on payroll and have holes to fill on the roster. Trading Jansen would bring a good return and would help the payroll.

Another reason to trade Jansen is his injury history. Catchers do tend to get injured but Jansen had just 248 plate appearances in 2022 and 205 in 2021. Catchers don't play every day but you would expect to get 400 to 500 PA's from your primary catcher.

The question in trading Jansen is will Kirk and Moreno be able to replicate Jansen's offense and, just as importantly, his defence? Also, was 2022 a true reflection of Jansen's ability? His WAR was a career high and well above his previous highs. In other words are you trading a 4 WAR player or a 2 WAR player? If Jansen is expected to be a 4 WAR player you are more likely to keep him or look for a big return before you would agree to trade him. His offensive output in 2022 was impressive but sometimes players have career years. Jansen was 27 in 2022, 27 is often an age when players have career years.


Option 3 - Trade Alejandro Kirk

As with Jansen you trade Kirk because you need to trade one of the catchers. Kirk is still not eligble for arbitration so a trade would not be a big money saver. Kirk's 2022 was excellent offensively and replacing that production would be tough. If Kirk was 50 pounds lighter you would probably not entertain trading him. But Kirk's weight and stamina are the central issues to a trade decision. Everyone knows Kirk is heavy. He lost some weight coming into 2022 and you would assume he would be asked to lose more before 2023. But as players become more established they have less motivation to do the hard work in the off season. If you see a photo of Kirk's family you can see that beefy is in the family DNA. Also players get heavier as they age. So while Kirk might be just as good in 2023, what would you expect him to be in 2024 and 2025?

Kirk was rested a bit down the stretch. It could be because it was his first full season but the Jays would want to know what to expect in future seasons. The Jays would likely discuss expectations for Kirk's weight and stamina with their athletic trainers and other experts.

Although there is a baserunning aspect to WAR, you wonder if Kirk's poor baserunning and its impact on run scoring by the team is fully captured in the formulas.

The decision about trading Kirk likely comes down to weight and fitness expectations.


Option 4 - Trade Gabriel Moreno

Why trade a top ten prospect in baseball, at a premium position, whose rights you control for at least six seasons? There are several reasons.

First, Moreno is more valuable than the other two catchers, according to the baseball trade values web site. Again, this is because Moreno is a top ten talent with six years of control (and under payment) remaining.

Second, you have needs and Moreno will bring back the best return.

Third, the Jays have a youngish core and are in a win now mode. Playing Moreno could set the team back in the short term as he learns the major leagues and how to call a major league game.

Fourth, the front office and more particularly the GM, are under pressure to deliver playoff success. Indeed Atkins job may rest on making the playoffs again in 2023. With the salaries paid to free agents the Jays have little financial flexibility. A Moreno trade helps you to improve the roster and increase the teams chances of reaching the playoffs. As mentioned in the previous point, Jansen and Kirk are your best bets if you need to win in 2023.


Summary

The Jays are working through their catcher options. While the Jays should probably trade Jansen or Kirk, I believe they will trade Moreno because of the pressure on the GM and the win now belief in the teams core.

What do you think? You can comment here or there is a related poll on the left side of this page.

The Catcher Situation | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
lexomatic - Sunday, November 06 2022 @ 05:38 PM EST (#424101) #
Catchers with 500 PA2022 5 Realmuto, Murphy, Smith, Kirk, Melendez2021 3 Smith Realmuto Perez2019 4 Realmuto Vazquez Grandal Ramos2018 6 Realmuto Grandal Molina Contreras Perez barnhart2017 4 Posey Realmuto Sanchez Molina2016 8 Posey Lucroy Ramos Molina Martin Realmuto Vogt Perez2015 9 Posey Cervelli Martin Nnorris Mccann Molina Vogt Perez Ramos
I don't think counting on 500 PA unless someone is DHing a lot is reasonable.
soupman - Sunday, November 06 2022 @ 05:58 PM EST (#424102) #
It's a real conundrum, isn't it?

My gut reaction is that trading Kirk makes the most sense- especially if the league perceives him as an allstar. I think the second half #s are worth considering more than the weight.

Moreno is, I think, still a gamble one way or another - it's possible another team likes what they see and just want him, or the Jays aren't as high on him...so i'm less prepared to say his movement would be a certain indication of a win-now mentality.

Jansen has the pop, and has shown flashes of more when fully healthy. I think that's the biggest knock on him to me - and the other key factor: which tandem is going to give you 162 games reliably over the next few years?

From a 'value' standpoint, I think Jansen is the biggest 'sell low' candidate - would net the lowest return, and be the least pleased to see moved. However, I suppose I could still see a lineup composition argument made for why you want a different batted ball profile in that slot, and I appreciate Kirk's situational hitting approach a lot.

I think that the Jays should be thinking bigger picture. If Ohtani is on the trade block (and would sign an extension to stay) -I don't think anyone is untouchable, and a package centred around Vlad makes sense for both sides.
85bluejay - Sunday, November 06 2022 @ 06:35 PM EST (#424103) #
I am going with option 5 - trade 2 of the 3 catchers - It's a gamble but the Jays minor league system is mediocre, and I would be very reluctant to trade the few quality arms in the system - Jansen is coming off his best season and would be attractive to teams expecting to contend like the Cardinals - Kirk has a special bat but I don't know if his body will allow him to be an everyday catcher and I want the DH spot to be for resting players like Springer/Vlad. I would be open to moving any 2 that brings back the best return but I'm most partial to keeping Moreno and signing a veteran backup - I think the Jays need to take some aggressive and maybe risky steps in this critical offseason.
John Northey - Sunday, November 06 2022 @ 07:52 PM EST (#424104) #
In the end I think it depends on what you can get for each in return. I think the Jays top goals are to improve pitching, find a LH OF, find a CF, improve the pen. Any of the 3 should be able to solve one of those problems.

It all depends on who you trade with - Arizona is a young team building for 2024 and beyond I figure with an excess of LH CF'ers... Alek Thomas (A+ defense, 76 OPS+ but was great in minors (313/389/499), Corbin Carroll (a bit weaker on defense, but a top 5 prospect in MLB on offense and still strong on D), Daulton Varsho (CF/C who was used mainly in RF this year 109 OPS+), Jake McCarthy (CF in '21, RF/LF/CF this year 114 OPS+ so far). All are 25 or less and their top prospect after Carroll is Druw Jones (yes, Andruw Jones son and very similar to his dad).

I was listing David Peralta (111 OPS+ lifetime, mostly used in LF/RF but has 23 games in CF, entering age 35 season) but double checked and he is a free agent and would be worthwhile for the Jays to pursue imo.

Lots of guys who match up, meanwhile not a single catcher on their top 30 prospects list, while their #1 catcher had a 76 OPS+ 0.8 bWAR, Backup a 33 OPS+ -0.1 bWAR, the only catchers who hit remotely well in their system (675+ OPS) were AAAA guys (27+ in age) or rookie ball guys. This is a team that leans left and needs right handed power and a catcher so any of our 3 should be like water to a guy in a desert to them. If a deal doesn't happen between these teams then both GM's failed imo as this is just too good a fit.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 06 2022 @ 09:10 PM EST (#424105) #
I am from the Magpie school on this one. Focus on the player you want to get, and then on whether you are willing to give up the player they want in return. The club should be willing to trade any of the three for an appropriate return.
John Northey - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 12:47 AM EST (#424107) #
For trades I see the catchers (any 1 or 2 of the 3 of them), corner OF'ers (Hernandez & Gurriel - both free agents after 2023), and one of the 3 at second base (Biggio, Espinal, Merrifield) as the main guys available in a trade. Most minor leaguers are always available. The needs are another starter or two, a LH hitting OF (thus clearing out one of the guys we have now) who either is great on defense or great on offense but not so bad on the other part that we all groan (see Zimmer and Tapia). No idea who they'll be chasing specifically, but I doubt we'll see another $20+ million free agent signing this winter (3 years in a row signing a top 5 free agent has to end at some point - although I wouldn't mind seeing them get Correa, Turner, Swanson, Judge, Bogarts, Nimmo, deGrom, Rodon, or Verlander). FYI: who knew? Taijuan Walker is a free agent again - in his 2 years as a Met since leaving Toronto he was worth 3.1 bWAR for $17 million and is entering his age 30 season. Might be worth kicking the tires on Walker, but I'd rather resign Stripling.
scottt - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 10:10 AM EST (#424109) #
It's unclear how much they can get for a catcher.
Obviously, Moreno would bring back a vet with 1 or 2 year of control left which would increase payroll.
There are a few  decent catchers on the free agency market.
Most teams will just sign one of those.
Contreras 31, 5.5 WAR.
Zunino 32, 4.5 WAR.
Narvaez 31, 4.0 WAR.
Gary Sanchez  30, 2.8 WAR.
Christian Vazquez 31, 2.0 WAR.
Boston think they can turn McGuire into a decent hitter and they got him for basically nothing.

Kirk was the better catcher. Jansen is not a great DH for the Jays.
Moreno can back up and doesn't have to DH.
Might be the right time to tweak the outfield, actually.

They have some internal options for the 3rd catcher but they can just sign anybody like they did this year.
The win now move is not to keep Jansen, it's to find a big left bat to hit in the top 3. 


bpoz - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 10:58 AM EST (#424110) #
Arizona will be active this off season. I don't know when we last traded with Arizona.

Pitchers Ian Kennedy and Zack Davies are probably going to become FAs. Cheap ones. Z Davies had a good year so he will reject the mutual option.

1/2 LH OFs could be traded. If not traded off season then at the trade deadline for sure because I see only LAD safely getting a playoff spot.
John Northey - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 11:46 AM EST (#424111) #
scottt - the big question in any trade is excess value - the value of the player vs what they are worth. Free agents, by their nature, have very little excess value. If a guy is worth $100 mil over 5 years then he tends to get paid that as a free agent. But someone like Kirk or Moreno, both pre-arbitration, get paid far less than their value, under $1 mil for $30 mil of value from Kirk to the Jays last year for example (via FanGraphs). That is worth a LOT to a team. Especially a rebuilding one like Arizona who will have minimal revenue flows until they start contending again (good luck in the LAD/SDP division). They'd have very little interest in the free agent catchers who will command $20+ mil a year.

Btw, good luck to the Red Sox with McGuire. Remember, after 33 games in 2021 he was hitting 318/368/432 here, but then hit 200/265/273 over his final 45 games as a Blue Jay. He is s streaky hitter to put it mildly so his 877 OPS as a Red Sox in 36 games is nice, but he also had a 546 as a White Sox in 53 games last year. Any team that counts on him as more than a back up is going to be burned imo.

I see the Jays getting TONS of teams asking about Kirk & Jansen & Moreno depending on that teams place in the win cycle. If they are having troubles with getting quality defense they'll want Jansen, if they have a weak offense, Kirk, if they are rebuilding though they'll want Moreno, with Kirk also good for a rebuilding team. I'd be surprised if a rebuilder wants Jansen unless they see him as great at guiding young pitchers. Should be an interesting winter.
ISLAND BOY - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 11:49 AM EST (#424112) #
" I don't know when we last traded with Arizona."

The Jays got Joakim Soria from Arizona at the 2021 trade deadline for two minor leaguers. Other than that I don't remember too many trades between the two teams, bpoz.
bpoz - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 12:05 PM EST (#424113) #
Thanks ISLAND BOY.
Glevin - Monday, November 07 2022 @ 01:38 PM EST (#424115) #
I don't care which catcher they trade really. For me, it's all about value. If you're going to trade Kirk, it'd better be for a key piece like a starting CFer or 2Bman. If you trade Jansen, it can be for a much smaller piece.

Teams I think are likely options
Marlins: I don't love their starters after Alcantara as I think they are kind of #3-5 guys in the AL East which is useful but wouldn't want to give up Kirk for. Lopez, who the Jays seem to like doesn't K enough guys.
Cubs: Don't seem like a great fit but they'll need a C I think
Brewers: Could be an interesting fit as the cheapness of Jays catchers helps a lot here. How much would it take to get Burnes?
Cardinals: See a good fit here. Guys like Gorman and Nootbar, O'Neil, might be interesting to the Jays and Cardinals have depth to trade from.
Arizona: They have extra OFers but have a C as well so who knows.
Giants: Bart looks pretty meh so could use a C. Don't have much depth to trade though.
lexomatic - Tuesday, November 08 2022 @ 08:04 PM EST (#424137) #
Apparently Cards have the 9 Catcher/  71in top 100 prospect who had a callup. Might only be interested in Jansen as a transition. Not as much fit as I would have thought.
Glevin - Wednesday, November 09 2022 @ 11:21 AM EST (#424143) #
"Apparently Cards have the 9 Catcher/ 71in top 100 prospect who had a callup. Might only be interested in Jansen as a transition. Not as much fit as I would have thought."

Probably not a fit for Moreno but if they're trying to win Jansen and Kirk are massive upgrades.
92-93 - Wednesday, November 09 2022 @ 04:59 PM EST (#424149) #
There is no "catcher situation". Jansen and Kirk are both injury-prone, DH is wide open, and Moreno hasn't proven anything at the MLB level. The Jays actively shopping any of their catchers would be a mistake. If somebody comes to them with a fair offer, that's a different story. The real logjam the Jays have is 3 RH corner OFs making 6MM+.
Glevin - Thursday, November 10 2022 @ 10:17 AM EST (#424154) #
"There is no "catcher situation". Jansen and Kirk are both injury-prone, DH is wide open, and Moreno hasn't proven anything at the MLB level."

The Jays have 3 catchers who need regular playing time. That's a log-jam. Keeping a third catcher in case someone gets hurt just isn't a valuable use of resources. Jays had tons of injuries last year at C and Moreno wasn't ready and Zach Collins still only had 79 PAs. If the Jays will need, there will be plenty of third catchers available for nothing. The team has everyday holes to fill that are way more valuable than having a third catcher who can play.
SK in NJ - Thursday, November 10 2022 @ 10:44 AM EST (#424155) #
Agreed with Glevin. While having depth at catcher like this is great, it's also not the best use of assets as there is only so much playing time you can give three players in one position. The Jays also seem content with using DH to rest Springer, Vlad, etc, which will also impact how often the 3 catchers can play. The only real way to make keeping all 3 work is if they move Moreno to a different position full time and use him as a 3rd/occasional catcher.

Davidi mentioned in his latest column "there are some in the industry who feel itís even likelier that they trade an outfielder." Not sure how much value Hernandez and Gurriel have with one year left. If the Jays want to maximize 2023 wins, then it seems more sensible to trade Gurriel as Hernandez is the better all around player with the higher ceiling, though I can't imagine the return for Gurriel to be anything significant.
Lylemcr - Thursday, November 10 2022 @ 04:58 PM EST (#424160) #
I would choose any of the 3 trades only if you get good return. I felt that the Grichuk trade was done out of necessity, not because they liked Tapia. Don't do that here.
JohnL - Thursday, November 10 2022 @ 07:40 PM EST (#424164) #
Kirk just won the Silver Slugger.

https://www.mlb.com/news/silver-slugger-award-winners-2022
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