The White Sox and Blue Jays have agreed to a swap of catchers, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Zack Collins is headed to Toronto, while Reese McGuire has been dealt to the Sox.
Rumors have swirled for months that the Jays were looking to move some of their catching depth, though today’s move still gives Toronto a bit more roster flexibility behind the plate while still retaining that depth. Collins has a minor league option remaining while McGuire is out of options, so the Blue Jays can now more easily stash Collins at Triple-A.
From Chicago’s perspective, the Sox now have a more established big leaguer who can work as the backup behind Yasmani Grandal. Since Grandal will get some time at the DH spot, McGuire and Seby Zavala (who is also out of options) can each get some action behind the plate, and the expanded 28-man rosters for April will allow the White Sox the luxury of carrying three catchers.
The Pirates selected McGuire with the 14th overall pick of the 2013 draft, and he was a regular on top-100 prospect lists during his time in Pittsburgh’s farm system. However, despite some good numbers in limited action in 2018-19, McGuire’s potential has yet to really manifest itself at the big league level. The 27-year-old has hit .248/.297/.390 with nine homers over an even 400 plate appearances with the Blue Jays, with McGuire often finding himself behind Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirkand Luke Maile on the catching depth chart.
Collins and McGuire share rather similar resumes — both are left-handed hitting catchers, they were born less than a month apart in 1995, and both are former first-round picks. The White Sox selected Collins 10th overall in 2016, and like McGuire, Collins has also yet to offer much production in the majors. Collins has a .195/.315/.330 slash line and seven home runs in 351 career PA, and he has struck out in 113 of those plate appearances.
Defense has been a question mark for Collins dating back to his college days at the University Of Miami, whereas McGuire is regarded as a decent defender. (Statcast gave McGuire a solid +4 in framing runs during the 2021 season.) This could be seen as something of a hitting-for-defense swap, if the Jays think they’ve seen something in Collins that can allow him to unlock his power potential.
With Collins able to be optioned, Jansen and Kirk now projects as Toronto’s regular catching tandem, and Kirk is also expected to get some DH time. It isn’t out of the question that the Jays might still deal from this catching depth, as star prospect Gabriel Moreno is starting the season at Triple-A and could be making his Major League debut before 2022 is out.