The Blue Jays are enjoying their first off-day in nearly a month and are now loading up for another grind through the schedule that’ll take them to the end of the season, and, hopefully, the playoffs.
They’ll host the Mets this weekend, have a day off on Monday, and then they’ll play 14 games in 13 days to finish things off. It’ll be a grind, but the Jays have put themselves in a good position, leading the Yankees by two games in the standings.
The big news over the past week has been injury-related. First, Teoscar Hernandez got placed on the Injured List with an oblique injury and then Rowdy Tellez joined him after hurting his knee catching a pop-up near the team’s bullpen.
Losing Hernandez and Tellez is obviously a big, big blow to the team’s offence as both players were enjoying breakout seasons at the plate. The word is they’ll be getting Bo Bichette back this weekend after a month on the Injured List, which is a plus, but the team could use another boost offensively.
Where might that come from? The only position player on the 40-man roster who isn’t either on the Injured List or active with the team is catcher Reese McGuire, who was optioned in favour of veteran Caleb Joseph.
McGuire obviously isn’t going to be brought back to provide a spark at the plate given the fact he had three hits this season, so that leaves us with Alejandro Kirk, one of the organization’s top prospects who was added to the Taxi Squad a few weeks back.
Keegan Matheson did a news and notes type post on Thursday and mentioned Kirk as a name to keep an eye on…
Don’t sleep on catcher Alejandro Kirk, the club’s No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. There’s already been discussion about adding him to the roster, even though he hasn’t played above Class A Advanced, because of his advanced bat. Kirk wouldn’t necessarily play a starting role, but if there’s a way to sneak him onto the roster, the 21-year-old is allergic to strikeouts and would give Montoyo a unique, high-contact bat off the bench.
Kirk really put himself on the map with an excellent showing in spring training all the way back in March. And, given the struggles of Toronto’s catchers, many have been calling his name for a call-up.
Could that actually happen this season?
As Keegan noted above, the 21-year-old Kirk has yet to play above Single-A Dunedin. He slashed a .290/.403/.465 line between Lansing and Dunedin last season and had an eye-popping 39-to-56 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
At this point, having Kirk join the roster and play as a catcher seems like throwing a prospect in the deep end without a life vest. It’s a huge ask for a kid to come up and learn the Blue Jays’ pitchers and deal with big-league pitching for the first time in his life all at once.
But using him as a bat off the bench, similar to the one we saw the team use Daniel Vogelbach in for about 45 minutes, does make some sense, especially now that Tellez is out and there isn’t quite as much of a 1B/DH logjam as before.
The Jays could continue to roll with Travis Shaw at first, Vlad Jr. at DH, and Joe Panik or Santiago Espinal at third and then use Kirk off the bench to pinch-hit for those lighter bats. He isn’t a veteran by any means, but Kirk’s numbers suggest that he’s capable of seeing pitches and taking veteran-style at-bats, which would be worthwhile in key, late-game situations.
The difficulty with adding Kirk to the roster is that, beyond having to add him to the 40-man, the Jays also have a bit of a roster crunch ahead of them when it comes to the Rule 5 draft this winter.
Kirk isn’t Rule 5 eligible until 2021, but fellow catchers Riley Adams and Gabriel Moreno, who might be the best catcher in the system, are eligible this year. So in order to not expose Moreno or Adams to the Rule 5 draft, both would need to join Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire on the 40-man. If Kirk gets added to finish the season with the Blue Jays, the team could be looking at having five catchers on the 40-man at the same time.
There’s no doubt that Kirk has a very interesting bat, but it’s a pretty tricky situation to maneuver simply to add a 21-year-old who hasn’t yet played in Double-A to the roster. I would love to see it happen, personally, but I doubt the team does it.