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.
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.