The Toronto Blue Jays are raiding the Astros’ outfield this week, signing George Springer and closing in on a deal with Michael Brantley.
ESPN reported Tuesday that Springer agreed to a $150 million, six-year contract with the Blue Jays, the largest in franchise history.
Toronto Finds a Star in Springer
Springer spent the entirety of his seven-season MLB career with the Astros. Over the past four years, he found a home in the leadoff spot, making three straight All-Star Games from 2017 through 2019.
The Blue Jays beat out the New York Mets and others for Springer’s services. The 31-year-old excelled again in the shortened 2020 season, hitting .265 with 14 home runs in just 51 games.
Springer has excelled in the postseason, hitting 19 playoff home runs during his career. Toronto made the expanded playoff field last year, but fell 2-0 to the eventual AL champion Tampa Bay Rays in the first round.
Toronto had been working to sign a star of Springer’s caliber throughout the offseason in an attempt to compete in the AL East. The Blue Jays must contend with both the Rays and the New York Yankees, who stand as one of the leading favorites to win the World Series.
Brantley Signing Reported, Retracted on Wednesday
More reinforcements could be on the way. Several media sources reported Wednesday morning that the Blue Jays signed Michael Brantley – another former Astros outfielder – to a three-year deal. Reporters walked back that story later in the day, saying that the two sides were still in negotiations.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 20, 2021
At 33, Brantley remains one of the most consistent hitters in the majors. The four-time All-Star hit .299 or better in each of the past four seasons. He spent the last two years in Houston after 10 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, finishing third in the AL MVP voting back in 2014.
Adding Springer – and possibly Brantley – will make Toronto more competitive in 2021, but it’s unlikely to be enough to vault them into the realm of World Series contenders. DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists the Blue Jays as a +3000 pick to win the World Series this year. That’s far behind the favored Los Angeles Dodgers (+450), not to mention their AL East rivals, the Yankees (+550) and the Rays (+2000).
If things go well in Toronto, however, the Blue Jays could turn the AL East into a three-team race. The Yankees (-200) remain a heavy favorite, but both the Rays (+350) and Blue Jays (+450) are considered credible contenders. Meanwhile, oddsmakers see the Boston Red Sox (+1600) and Baltimore Orioles (+5000) as unlikely to factor into the title race.
While Springer was perhaps the biggest name on the free-agent list this offseason, several big names remain unsigned. Former Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is still on the market, as are starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, outfielder Marcell Ozuna, and shortstop Marcus Semien.