George Springer is one of the most prominent of the many free agents the Blue Jays are reportedly exploring this offseason, though the Jays’ initial interest in Springer seems to be developing. According to Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi, the Jays have “progressed beyond just talking” with Springer, which would seem to indicate that Toronto has issued at least one offer to the former World Series MVP.
Such a step doesn’t necessarily indicate that a deal could be close, or even that Springer is the Blue Jays’ top free agent target. However, the Jays already made one early signing in bringing Robbie Ray back to the club on a one-year contract, and the wide net Toronto is seemingly casting over so many free agents could indicate that the Blue Jays are looking to strike while many other teams are still figuring out their payrolls or (along those same lines) planning to wait to make moves later in the offseason in order to find bargains. Davidi opines that the Jays first seem to be looking at position players in order to “nail down their lineup adds, figure out what’s staying, and then trade to get pitching help.”
From Springer’s perspective, there are pros and cons to signing early (with the Jays or any other team). Signing a deal now would allow him to avoid any prolonged uncertainty on the open market and allow him to entirely focus on the 2021 season with his new team. If the Blue Jays are one of relatively few teams who reportedly have money to spend this winter, signing would ensure that Springer can get top dollar rather than see Toronto spend its payroll on other players and then leaving Springer short a major suitor.
On the other hand, while the expected free agent crunch should impact players in the middle and lower tiers of the market, Springer and the other top-tier free agent names can safely assume they’ll still find an appropriately big payday. MLBTR ranked Springer third on our list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents and projected a hefty five-year, $125MM deal for the outfielder, even as he enters his age-31 season. As such, Springer faces no real rush to sign immediately since he knows a big contract awaits somewhere.
Springer might also want to wait for his market to fully reveal itself, once more teams do get their budgets finalized and more offers emerge. For instance, the Mets don’t seem to be fully diving into offseason moves until they figure out their front office situation, and loom as a potential bidder for just about anyone. “While the Blue Jays may be willing to set the market, agents will probably want to wait for the Mets to drop the gauntlet,” Davidi writes.