danny jansen

Getty The Chicago Cubs could use an upgrade at catcher. Could Blue Jays backstop Danny Jansen be a realistic trade target for them?

The Chicago Cubs have had an inconsistent start to the 2024 season. Manager Craig Counsell’s club is just 31-32 through 63 games. They’re still very much in the postseason hunt, though. While the Milwaukee Brewers have a comfortable lead in the National League Central, Chicago holds onto one of the three NL Wild Card spots. Could the club upgrade its catcher situation by acquiring Toronto Blue Jays backstop Danny Jansen?

Sports Illustrated’s Evan Massey thinks Jansen would provide a “massive catcher upgrade” for the Cubs.

However, if Chicago does decide to get aggressive, there is one position that isn’t being talked about enough that needs to be upgraded,” he said. “You guessed it, that position is at catcher, where the Cubs have received poor play so far this season. Right now, Chicago has been relying on a tandem of Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya. Neither player is bad, but they haven’t been getting the job done.”

If the Blue Jays decide to sell and ship Jansen out of town, he would be a rental for whichever squad landed him. He’s making $5.2 million in 2024 before hitting the free-agent market this winter, per Spotrac. The 29-year-old has hit .274/.352/.496 with five home runs, 10 doubles, 13 RBI and 19 runs scored across 128 plate appearances this season.

How Big of an Upgrade Would Jansen Be for the Cubs?

As Massey noted, Chicago’s catching duties are currently being handled by Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya. It’s safe to say that their offensive contributions have left a lot to be desired.

Through his first 85 plate appearances, Gomes is slashing .148/.176/.235 with two homers, one double, five RBI and seven runs scored. He’s also fresh off a 2023 campaign in which he posted a productive .723 OPS for the Cubs in 116 games. There could be hope in the front office that Gomes finds his swing and eventually produces like he did last year.

Amaya is a 25-year-old in his second big-league season. After posting a .688 OPS as a rookie, that number has dropped to .526 in 135 plate appearances. His triple slash has settled in at .190/.254/.273 with just five extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple and two homers).

A Lackluster National League Could Convince Chicago to Buy at the Deadline

As inconsistent as the Cubs have been, they still have plenty to play for. Deciding to be aggressive and buying at the deadline might be easier because of how the rest of the National League has performed.

Only four NL teams have a winning record right now. This includes the Philadelphia Phillies (44-19), Atlanta Braves (35-25), Brewers (36-26) and Los Angeles Dodgers (38-25). Before losing to the Cincinnati Reds on June 6, the Cubs were the only NL team with a .500 record. Meanwhile, the 10 other squads all had a losing record.

There are six teams within two games of the Cubs in the Wild Card standings. But still, this puts them in an interesting position to bolster their roster ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

Pursuing Jansen checks more boxes for Chicago beyond an upgrade in production. His current salary wouldn’t burden the payroll, and there’s no long-term commitment since he’s a rental. It probably wouldn’t take a huge prospect package to get a deal done if the Jays decide to sell, either. If he becomes available, it would behoove Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer to make a serious inquiry.

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