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Thread: General Blue Jays Discussion Thread (2022)

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    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/...el-moreno.html


    Finding A Trade Partner For The Blue Jays’ Catching Surplus
    By Steve Adams | December 19, 2022 at 7:34pm CDT

    Entering the offseason, there were several high-profile catchers available for teams seeking upgrades — and the list of teams in search of an upgrade was quite long. Two months into the offseason, however, the options have dwindled in a hurry. Willson Contreras broke the hearts of many Cubs fans by signing for five years with the division-rival Cardinals. Christian Vazquez, the No. 2 catching option on the free-agent market, is headed to Minnesota on a three-year contract. Sean Murphy, the top option overall, was traded to a team that didn’t even expressly need a catcher — the Braves — and as a result of what wound up being a three-team swap, the Brewers saw William Contreras fall into their laps. Omar Narvaez signed with the Mets on a two-year, $15MM deal that gives him a chance to return to the market next winter.

    Other teams have made smaller-scale moves. Cleveland added former Rays and Mariners slugger Mike Zunino on a one-year deal, likely removing them from the market. The A’s wound up taking Manny Pina’s contract from the Braves in that Murphy deal, so they’re unlikely to pursue a backup to prospect Shea Langeliers. The Reds inked Cincinnati native Luke Maile to back up Tyler Stephenson.

    As MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald explored last week, the catching market has been largely picked over — with one notable exception. The Blue Jays have yet to trade any of their three big league-caliber catchers: Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk or Gabriel Moreno. There’s no dire need in Toronto to move any of that trio, but the Jays are a win-now team with a catching surplus and needs elsewhere on the roster (left-handed bat, bullpen help). Trading one of those catchers could bring back some needed help for the 2023 campaign while simultaneously adding a prospect or two to their system.

    Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins acknowledged the Jays’ surplus today, calling the catching market “exceptionally strong” but also expressing he’d be comfortable carrying all three of his catchers into the 2023 season (Twitter links via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet). Moreover, Atkins suggested his focus is now shifting to improving the lineup — likely by adding a left-handed bat that could slot somewhere into the outfield mix. With many (but not all) of the top options on the free-agent market already picked over, it stands to reason the Jays could leverage their catching surplus to help address that need.

    Of course, with so many teams having already filled their catching needs, the Blue Jays’ trade partners aren’t quite as plentiful as they might have been a few weeks ago. However, while they’ll likely be dealing with a smaller number of clubs now, the Jays have more leverage with those teams still seeking a catcher, because there just isn’t much else available in terms of starting-caliber difference makers behind the plate. Toronto’s wealth of catching options makes for one of the more fascinating trade scenarios around the league, so it seems worth it to take a closer look at the situation as a whole.

    The potential trade candidates

    Danny Jansen, 27, controlled through 2024 via arbitration (projected $3.7MM salary, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    It’s been an up-and-down career at the plate for Jansen, in part because injuries have intervened at times. Jansen missed more than a month in 2022 with separate injuries (broken finger, oblique strain) and missed a combined two months of the 2021 season with two separate hamstring strains. He’s played in just 142 games over the past two seasons.

    On the flip side, Jansen has been anywhere from an above-average to excellent hitter in three of his five Major League seasons. He struggled in 2019-20 but since Opening Day 2021 carries a .243/.321/.496 batting line with 26 home runs in just 453 plate appearances. Jansen has easily the most power of the Jays’ three potentially available catchers and could realistically pop 25-plus homers if he were to stay healthy for a full season.

    Defensively, Jansen has been about average in terms of caught-stealing rate and has above-average framing marks for his career, though those dipped to below-average in 2022 (perhaps not coincidentally, given that the aforementioned fractured finger was on his glove hand). Jansen has two arb years left but shouldn’t break the bank in that time. There are health concerns, but he’s a clear starting-caliber catcher who’d be an improvement for more than a third of the teams in MLB.

    Alejandro Kirk, 24, controlled through 2026 (pre-arbitration in 2023)

    Kirk only turned 24 in November but already has two years of Major League service time, an All-Star nod and a Silver Slugger under his belt. He appeared in 139 games for the Jays in 2022, serving as their primary catcher while Jansen missed time due to the aforementioned injuries. Along the way, Kirk hit .285/.372/.415 with 14 homers and 19 doubles. A hit-over-power player, Kirk has a career .278/.362/.426 slash with an 11% walk rate against an 11.1% strikeout rate (83 walks to 84 strikeouts).

    Strong as the bat is, Kirk isn’t without limitations. He’s one of the slowest players in baseball (third percentile sprint speed, per Statcast) and has a below-average caught-stealing rate, due in part to slow “pop times” when coming out of his crouch; Statcast rated his pop time to second base in the 32nd percentile of MLB catchers. On the other hand, Kirk draws outstanding framing marks and above-average grades for blocking pitches in the dirt.

    Gabriel Moreno, 22, controlled through at least 2028 (pre-arbitration in 2023)

    Moreno is likely the most difficult of the entire bunch to move, given his remaining six years of club control and status as one of the five best prospects in baseball. He’ll turn 23 in February and just wrapped up a season that saw him bat .315/.386/.420 in 267 Triple-A plate appearances before batting .319/.356/.377 with just an 11% strikeout rate in 73 MLB plate appearances as a rookie.

    While he’s not billed as a major power threat — Moreno’s career-high in homers is 12, and he hit just four in 2022 — Moreno draws praise from scouting reports for a potential plus-plus hit tool and strong glovework behind the dish. He’s not necessarily “fast,” but he’s not the plodder many would expect from any catcher. He drew average grades for his speed on scouting reports, and Statcast pegged him right in the 50th percentile for sprint speed this past season. Even if he’s not hitting more than 10 to 15 homers per year, Moreno has the potential to post high batting averages and on-base percentages while providing better-than-average defense behind the plate.

    Which teams are likely OUT on a catcher

    Teams that already added a starter this winter

    Any of the Jays’ three catchers would be viewed as a potential starter on a substantial portion of MLB’s 30 teams, but as noted above, a fair number of teams have already found a new starting catcher this winter. Don’t expect the Cardinals (Willson Contreras), Twins (Christian Vazquez), Braves (Sean Murhpy), Brewers (William Contreras), Guardians (Mike Zunino) or Mets (Omar Narvaez) to make a play for one of Jansen, Kirk or Moreno after all six of those clubs already landed a new starting backstop this winter.

    Teams that already have a standout or promising young incumbent

    The Braves’ acquisition of Murphy shows that teams can never fully be ruled out of finding a creative way to acquire a new, impact player — but it still seems unlikely that any of the remaining clubs with a high-end starter behind the dish will make a play for a Jays catcher. That means the Phillies (J.T. Realmuto), Dodgers (Will Smith), Orioles (Adley Rutschman), Reds (Tyler Stephenson) and Royals (Salvador Perez, defensive issues notwithstanding) all seem unlikely to pursue any of Toronto’s backstops.

    Teams with controllable young catchers of their own will also likely steer clear. Seattle’s Cal Raleigh had his OBP woes in ’22 but also hit with more power than any catcher in MLB. Top Angels prospect Logan O’Hoppe will get every opportunity to establish himself in 2023. The Rangers’ Jonah Heim and Yankees’ Jose Trevino, both standout defenders with several years of club control remaining, remove any urgency for either club to dive headlong into this market as well.

    Rebuilding clubs with young catchers

    You could certainly make that argument that a rebuilding team like the Nationals, A’s or Pirates would be wise to pursue Kirk or especially Moreno, but the Jays are going to want controllable, MLB-ready help in return, which a lot of rebuilding clubs don’t have in spades. Add in the fact that the Nats (Keibert Ruiz), A’s (Shea Langeliers, Tyler Soderstrom) and Pirates (Henry Davis, Endy Rodriguez) all have young catchers of note already in house, and a trade becomes more difficult to see.

    Long shot teams (for one reason or another)

    The White Sox would probably be thrilled to get their hands on a Jays catcher, but Toronto’s top need is a left-handed-hitting outfielder, and Gavin Sheets isn’t going to be the centerpiece for anyone in this Toronto catching corps. The Sox also have a year and $18.25MM to go on their deal with Yasmani Grandal — a contract not easily moved. I’m sure the Tigers would love Kirk or Moreno, but they’re lacking in MLB talent from which to deal.

    The Padres got a disappointing year from Austin Nola in 2022 but also have ballyhooed top prospect Luis Campusano as an in-house alternative. The Marlins still need catching help after a poor showing from Jacob Stallings but lack the MLB-ready outfield help the Jays might covet in trade. The Rockies are in a similar boat, having received a dismal showing from Elias Diaz in 2023. Like the Marlins, they’re short on the type of big league help the Jays would seek.

    The most logical trade partners (listed alphabetically)

    Astros: After missing out on Willson Contreras in free agency, the Astros will once again entrust light-hitting Martin Maldonado behind the plate. Maldonado played through a hernia and a broken bone in his hand, but his lack of production can’t be blamed on those injuries alone. Dating back to 2015, Maldonado’s 72 wRC+ is 16th-worst among 459 qualified MLB hitters. The Astros love Maldonado’s defense, game calling, game planning, and clubhouse leadership — and to his/their credit, they won a World Series with Maldonado as their primary catcher. That said, he’ll be 37 next summer and is on a one-year deal. Prospect Korey Lee hasn’t hit much above A-ball. There’s a good on-paper fit here, though the elephant in the room is that the Astros lack the MLB-ready bat the Jays might covet in return; Kyle Tucker surely isn’t going anywhere.
    Cubs: The Cubs let Contreras walk, deferring to the older and more defensively-minded Yan Gomes while waiting for prospect Miguel Amaya, who missed much of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Any of the three Jays catchers would be an upgrade to the Cubs’ roster, and either Kirk or Moreno would supplant Amaya as the organization’s catcher of the future. The Cubs don’t have the controllable, big-league-ready bat the Jays might prefer, but they could send a year of switch-hitting outfielder Ian Happ and a prospect package behind him if they were to become serious about landing a Toronto catcher.
    D-backs: The cleanest fit for a good-old-fashioned “baseball” trade, the D-backs have four left-handed-hitting outfielders — Jake McCarthy, Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll — and are open to offers in a similar capacity to the Jays with regard to their catchers. Carroll seems all but untouchable, but any of McCarthy, Varsho or Thomas seems like a feasible starting point when looking at Toronto’s more controllable catchers (Kirk, Moreno). Toronto and Arizona are excellent trade partners, in this regard.
    Giants: There’s likely still hope in San Francisco that Joey Bart can solidify himself as the everyday catcher, but he’s seen MLB time in three seasons now and owns a .222/.294/.351 slash in 408 plate appearances. Bart hasn’t dominated Triple-A pitching, either, and the Giants at least inquired with the A’s about Murphy before his trade to Atlanta. Like the ’Stros, however, I’m not sure the Giants have the sort of immediate upgrades Toronto would seek. Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. are both lefty-swinging outfielders with three remaining years of club control, but both are coming off down seasons at the plate.
    Rays: Francisco Mejia hasn’t developed into the hitter anyone hoped, and journeyman Christian Bethancourt posted a .265 OBP with the Rays in 2022. The Rays were a rumored suitor for Murphy and checked in on Willson Contreras at the trade deadline. They’re clearly open to augmenting the catching staff, though payroll is always a consideration. The Rays aren’t deep in left-handed bats, but Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe and Jonathan Aranda could all have some appeal to the Jays. The former Lowe is still signed affordably for four years, though, while the latter has yet to deliver on his former top prospect status. Aranda, meanwhile, has torn through upper-minors pitching but is a poor defender who lacks a clear defensive home. With the Rays, of course, it’s worth wondering whether division rivals would even be amenable to swapping long-term pieces.
    Red Sox: That last point on the Rays applies here, too, but the trade of Vazquez (and his subsequent deal with the Twins) leaves the Sox with a combination of Reese McGuire and Connor Wong behind the plate. Boston doesn’t have another catcher on the 40-man roster, and the closest they have to an MLB-ready catching prospect is Ronaldo Hernandez, who went unclaimed on waivers two weeks ago. This is an organization that would benefit either from a two-year bridge like Jansen or, more improbably, a long-term solution like Kirk or Moreno. Perhaps there’d need to be some pieces added to balance both sides of the deal, but either Alex Verdugo or Jarren Duran fall into the bucket of MLB-ready outfield help the Jays could consider.
    The D-backs represent the cleanest fit, in my view, though there are plenty of other options to consider, particularly if you want to brainstorm potential three-teams swaps like the one that sent Murphy to Atlanta. The bottom line, however, is that while many catching-needy teams have filled their vacancies, the Jays should still have plenty of interest in their catchers in the weeks to come. At this point, the majority of the roads on the catching market run through Toronto.

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    MVP jaysblue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eat My Shatkins View Post
    Luxury threshold be damned....

    Sign Conforto or Profar
    Sign Cueto or Kluber
    Sign Rogers or Chafin

    You'd be adding about $25-30 million AAV or so?

    I'd like that team, a lot.
    Jays are in win now mode. If they could sign all 3 of those guys, worth going over IMO. Would prefer Conforto and Rogers. Kluber and Cueto would be a flip of the coin for me haha.
    "6.2 WAR as a 23 year old. Felix Hernandez doesn't suck." - Boxy

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    Kenny is reporting the Jays and Rangers are both interested in Conforto. Grab the lube.

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    Conforto just really rounds out this lineup for me. But can they promise him everyday at-bats. I can't imagine him wanting to sign somewhere he isn't locked into a LF or RF job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    What in the hell is he talking about? A Kirk and Moreno tandem isn't good enough? Lol it would be a Top 5 catching tandem in the league, maybe THE top catching tandem. Kirk and whatever MLB bum or Moreno and whatever MLB by themselves would probably Top 10.
    They'd be the best tandem in the league easily, if they moved another player than Jano, they'd still have the best tandem in the league, easily.
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    Lourdes should not be guaranteed at bats if they sign Conforto. He essentially becomes the 4th OF. Plant Michael in LF and tell pineapple man to grab some pine.

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    DONOR Spanky99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonn View Post
    My pleasure. Lets hope the Front Office doesn’t decide to trade a Catcher for an Outfielder just because we “need” one.

    Wait until teams are willing to play ball. They can fuck off until then. Going into Spring with all 3 would be a power move.
    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    Keeping all 3 Catchers should only be done if we aren't getting 80-90 cents on the dollar for Jansen.

    1. He's only got 2 years left, so the longer we wait to trade him, the closer we are to losing him in FA, thus losing the catching depth which is spurring the trade to begin with.

    2. Trading him for a less valuable player isn't that risky. How badly can we get burnt by losing out on 2 years of his production when we've got both Moreno and Kirk (both of whom project better) in the fold? Yeah we could be EXTRA protected in case of injury but this ignores the fact that:

    3. We are thin in the OF and in the rotation. Both of those are more important than the #3 Catcher. Trading a 2.5 WAR Jansen for a 2 WAR Outfielder or a #5 SP is going to be a net improvement for the team. And it will take advantage of #1 (while we still have that surplus to actually take advantage of) while not likely to burn us (#2).
    I thought this has been obvious since last season's trade deadline, no?
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    You are truly the perfect marriage of stupidity and confidence.

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    Hall of Famer Jonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L54 View Post
    Lourdes should not be guaranteed at bats if they sign Conforto. He essentially becomes the 4th OF. Plant Michael in LF and tell pineapple man to grab some pine.
    The depth proposition is spicy. It would definitely be the deepest Jays team have had in I can't even remember. Gurriel can be worked in multiple places but not really an ideal 4th OF at the same time because he can't play anywhere but LF. He can definitely play 1B though which would allow Vlad to DH a good chunk of games to help keep him healthy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by L54 View Post
    Lourdes should not be guaranteed at bats if they sign Conforto. He essentially becomes the 4th OF. Plant Michael in LF and tell pineapple man to grab some pine.
    This is exactly what you do - although the stats will show the 4th OFer gets 500+ PA's on average anyway, so it shouldn't be hard for Conforto to see he'll get a full workload in TO this year.

    Conforto signing would round off a fantastic offseason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonn View Post
    The depth proposition is spicy. It would definitely be the deepest Jays team have had in I can't even remember. Gurriel can be worked in multiple places but not really an ideal 4th OF at the same time because he can't play anywhere but LF. He can definitely play 1B though which would allow Vlad to DH a good chunk of games to help keep him healthy.
    Plenty of versatility with Conforto, KK, Springer, Merrifield that allows us to use Gurriel as the 4th OFer, even if he can't play CF (or RF?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonn View Post
    The depth proposition is spicy. It would definitely be the deepest Jays team have had in I can't even remember. Gurriel can be worked in multiple places but not really an ideal 4th OF at the same time because he can't play anywhere but LF. He can definitely play 1B though which would allow Vlad to DH a good chunk of games to help keep him healthy.
    It sure would be. If that happened I think one of Biggio/Espinal/Whit would have to be moved

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    Quote Originally Posted by L54 View Post
    All aboard the Wade Miley train
    He IS available in BBDL.
    Quote Originally Posted by Laika View Post
    You are truly the perfect marriage of stupidity and confidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brownie19 View Post
    This is exactly what you do - although the stats will show the 4th OFer gets 500+ PA's on average anyway, so it shouldn't be hard for Conforto to see he'll get a full workload in TO this year.

    Conforto signing would round off a fantastic offseason.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brownie19 View Post
    Plenty of versatility with Conforto, KK, Springer, Merrifield that allows us to use Gurriel as the 4th OFer, even if he can't play CF (or RF?)
    Exactly to both of these. Lourdes is the 4th OF because hes the 4th best. If you need a CF replacement Springer moves over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky99 View Post
    He IS available in BBDL.
    lol sure Ill give you a 6th round pick

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    Quote Originally Posted by L54 View Post
    lol sure I’ll give you a 6th round pick
    I asked Spanky about Lourdes last year and it was like he was dealing with an original Picasso

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    Hall of Famer Stangstag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L54 View Post
    Exactly to both of these. Lourdes is the 4th OF because hes the 4th best. If you need a CF replacement Springer moves over.
    Yup. Springer/KK will likely be injured at some point this season, in which case Conforto/Gurriel play the corners every day.

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