The Toronto Blue Jays could be looking to make a trade this winter and they could have a valuable chip in Alejandro Kirk
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The Toronto Blue Jays should be right in the mix of a lot of conversations this winter. Regardless of the direction from which calls are made, there will be lots of chatting about the Blue Jays’ catching situation. They are deep with Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Reese McGuire leading the way and Gabriel Moreno on his way up. Something’s gotta give. McGuire could simply see his contract expire and he could find another team. But, they may wish to keep him and use Kirk as a trade chip.
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For a few years now, we’d been hearing that Kirk’s bat makes him special. The 22 year old has had us excited and his big league time has not disappointed. Sure, his 2021 didn’t live up to the .375 average he produced in 2020, but he has been a solid bat to have in the lineup, especially from a traditionally light hitting position. Even a “down year”, if we can call it that, saw him put up a wRC+ of 106, an xwOBA of .371 and .194 ISO. It should also be noted that he had a BABIP of .234, which stands out as an exception, rather than a career norm for him. He doesn’t strike out much and will take his share of walks.
Defensively, Kirk has not stood out in his 390 innings caught. Fangraphs lists him as earning a -3 DRS rating in 2021 and the Statcast numbers have him 40th in MLB with 47.2% Strike Rate. Runners stole 26 of 32 bases against him, he allowed 2 passed balls and 18 wild pitches, so the defense could be a strike against him, but the scouting report on him is that he is a work in progress, but the progress will come. He’s 22 and he has time to turn into a ‘bat first everyday catcher’.
Before continuing, I have to say that I do not WANT the Blue Jays to trade Alejandro Kirk. However, if a trade presents itself that brings Toronto the kind of upgrade that gets them closer to a division title, it has to be considered. And, you have to give to get. Kirk is the best chip of the three catchers.
Sure, Toronto could simply let McGuire walk and run with Jansen and Kirk in 2022. And, that would be great. It certainly is an easy answer. Another scenario would be to look for a trade partner for Danny Jansen. Considering his inconsistent bat, he may not garner much interest. Of course, he is young and is showing signs of turning his offense around and his defense is quite good and pitchers love throwing to him. So, he certainly does have value. That said, I can’t fight the feeling that the front office really loves Jansen and wants him to be the everyday guy behind the dish. Perhaps, they agree with JFtC’s Karen Soutar who feels Jansen’s May-Sept offensive numbers mean he is about to break out.
There is a very real possibility that Toronto could give Jansen the everyday job, retain McGuire, who they would have control over for years – this scenario would allow time for Moreno to grow – and trade Kirk and be a better team in 2022. Again, do I want that to happen? Not really. But, I also understand that trading for the kind of pieces the Blue Jays SHOULD be trading for (if they choose to trade and not shop on the open market), the cost is going to be high. Fans may not like that since we fall in love with guys like Alejandro Kirk. But, if a deal is on the table, one that involves Kirk and gets Toronto closer to a banner, Kirk may be an acceptable price.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.