Blue Jays expected to trade after recovering surplus

Blue Jays expected to trade after recovering surplus

The Blue Jays have an enviable crop of talented receivers and should use one of them in a trade this offseason, reports MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

It’s been speculated for some time that the Blue Jays will eventually have to move on from a receiver, given their various options. Danny Janssen, Alexander Kirk and Gabriel Moreno are all MLB-caliber backstops with varying degrees of experience. Given that most teams are blessed with even one good receiver, let alone three, it’s quite logical to think that they might consider trading one to take care of another part of the listing. Last offseason, Toronto’s captivating mix was often brought up in offseason talk and it’s only gotten worse since.

Despite the number of options available, there were good reasons why they hadn’t pulled the trigger on a deal a year ago. At the end of 2021, Gabriel Moreno was considered one of baseball’s hottest prospects but had just three Triple-A games on his resume. Alejandro Kirk made an exciting debut in 2020 but was limited by injury to just 60 games in 2021. Danny Jansen, the oldest in the squad, has also missed plenty of time in 2021, playing just 70 competitions. Given that there was some uncertainty with each of their three picks, it made sense to take a wait-and-see approach.

Here in 2022, Moreno added another 62 Triple-A games, hitting .315/.386/.420 for a wRC+ of 120. He also appeared in 25 big league competitions and produced a .319/ line. 356/.377 with a 113 wRC+ while looking solid on defense, including knocking out 7 of 17 base steal attempts. Kirk stayed out of IL and played 139 games. During that time, he hit 0.285/0.372/0.415 for a wRC+ of 129 while posting 9 recorded defensive runs and a 7.6 from the FanGraphs framing metric. Jansen still dealt with injuries and only played 72 games, despite hitting a terrific 15 homers in that span and slashing .260/.339/.516 for a wRC+ of 140 His defensive ratings were also generally strong, allowing him to post 2.6 fWAR despite playing less than half of the team’s games.

If the Jays felt they had enough strikes to consider a trade a year ago, circumstances have only pushed them further toward that conclusion since then. The only question will be to know which group to start from. Jansen had a cup of coffee in 2018 but established himself as a regular in 2019 playing 107 games. His bat was below par but he provided 12 DRS and earned an 8.1 from the FanGraphs frame metric. His bat continued to evolve over the following seasons, although this came with some durability issues. Due to the pandemic-shortened season in 2020 and two straight years with injuries, he hasn’t played more than 72 games in a single season since 2019. He also has just two years left in club control and is expected to earn $3.7 million. umpire salary in 2023 by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Kirk and Moreno are each still in their pre-arb years, with the Jays still having four years of club control over Kirk and six over Moreno. This cheap extra control surely makes them more attractive to the Jays in the long run, but it would also lead to better returns in any trade negotiations. Various teams will likely consider upgrades behind the plate this winter, including the Astros, Cardinals, Tigers, Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Twins, Guardians, Pirates, Red Sox and Rays. Some of these teams will look to free agency, with Willson Contreras the top of the market. However, he will surely need a big contract as well as a forfeiture of the draft pick, as he will undoubtedly receive and reject a qualifying offer from the Cubs. Other options will be available, such as Christian Vazquez, Gary Sanchez, Tucker Barnhart and more, though these players are all older than the trio on Toronto’s roster and will likely earn higher salaries on the open market.

Regardless of how the Jays ultimately decide to play, that contagious surplus could be their best path to club improvement this offseason. As recently explored by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk as part of the Offseason Outlook series, the Jays are already slated for a franchise-record payroll, even before they do anything. A few no-bids could reduce that number a bit and ownership could allow for additional spending, but the Jays may not be positioned for huge free-agent strikes this winter. If that is indeed the case, a trade centered on one of their backstops could be the ticket to improve the roster for 2023.

Starting to pitch will likely be an area of ​​focus for the club, with Ross Striplin departure in free agency and Hyun Jin Ryu expected to miss at least part of the season due to Tommy John’s surgery. They will always have a strong front two in Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman but then a bunch of guys going down years Jose Berrios, Yusei Kikuchi and Michael White. Finding both cheap and good starting pitchers is usually pretty hard to do, but the Jays seem to be in a good position to look to the commercial market instead.

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