Fresh off their first playoff season since 2016, the up-and-coming Blue Jays may be in position for an aggressive winter. With that in mind, they’re already showing interest in a couple of the game’s premier free-agent outfielders. The Astros’ George Springer and longtime Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. are on the Blue Jays’ radar, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (h/t: Tim Kelly of WEEI.com).
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Either Springer or Bradley could take over in center for Toronto, which relied on Randal Grichuk in 2020. Grichuk had a nice offensive season, hitting .273/.312/.481 (112 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 231 plate appearances. However, Grichuk had difficulty in the outfield, where he managed minus-eight Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-three Ultimate Zone Rating. With Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the corners, Toronto could either try to trade Grichuk, who’s due $29MM through 2023, or move him around the outfield/DH if it signs either Springer or Bradley.
Of Springer and Bradley, the former will command the far richer contract. MLBTR predicts a five-year, $125MM contract for Springer, who has blended high-end offense with very good defense throughout his career. There’s a case that the 31-year-old Springer is the No. 1 position player on the open market (it’s him or catcher J.T. Realmuto). With the Astros having given Springer an $18.9MM qualifying offer, which he’s sure to reject, the Blue Jays would have to surrender draft compensation to add him.
Bradley isn’t on Springer’s level, but JBJ has been a valuable player during his career, in which he has combined fantastic defense with passable offense. This past season, although abbreviated, was one of the 30-year-old’s best at the plate. He wound up with a strong line of .283/.364/.450 (119 wRC+), seven homers and five steals across 217 PA. MLBTR expects Bradley to land a two-year, $16MM contract before the 2021 campaign, but the Jays or another team will have to beat out the likes of the Red Sox and Astros, who have shown interest early this offseason.