9:20pm: Springer has offers in hand north of $100MM, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Those bids nevertheless remain well shy of the veteran’s asking price, per the report.
3:47pm: The Mets and Blue Jays have been known to be the strongest suitors for free agent slugger George Springer for weeks, but Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News takes that notion a bit further, reporting that the Mets and Jays are the two “final clubs” bidding on Springer in free agency.
That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a decision from Springer is nigh. Springer isn’t expected to sign until January, Thosar writes. While that technically could mean as soon as Friday, SNY’s Andy Martino writes that many involved in the bidding expect that Springer’s free agency could drag “well” into next month. Per Martino, the Mets and Springer aren’t yet close to a deal, and Springer’s camp is still seeking more than $150MM in guaranteed money.
In all likelihood, a $150MM+ contract would make Springer the top paid position player of the winter — possibly the top paid free agent overall. Such a contract could take multiple shapes; clubs more concerned about maintaining year-over-year flexibility could opt for a six-year pact in the $25MM-per-year range, or a team less concerned about approaching the luxury threshold could up the annual rate to around $30MM per year on a five-year term. Given the Blue Jays’ affordable young core, they seem less likely to be concerned with the luxury barrier than the Mets, who have several expensive stars already scattered about the roster.
Notably, Martino suggests that the Mets “might be willing to approach” the $150MM mark to secure Springer, although it’s likely telling to some extent that the two sides aren’t yet close to a deal in spite of that willingness. The Mets and the Blue Jays are considered to be two of the market’s most aggressive buyers this winter, and their reported interests carry some overlap beyond Springer; both have been linked to DJ LeMahieu, and both were tied to J.T. Realmuto — although the Mets are obviously out of that market now after signing James McCann to a four-year, $40.6MM contract.
Reports surrounding the two clubs seem to paint the Mets as the aggressor in the Springer market. New York is said to be focused on the longtime Astros center fielder as its top target, while the Jays remain linked to a bevy of top-tier free agents, including Springer, LeMahieu, Realmuto and Trevor Bauer. Both the Mets and the Blue Jays have also been rumored as possible landing spots when Francisco Lindor is ultimately traded.
Springer has raked at career-high rates over the past two seasons, posting a combined .284/.376/.576 batting line with 53 home runs, 26 doubles and five triples in 173 games and 778 plate appearances. Both Toronto and New York have somewhat crowded outfield pictures as it is, but either could move some pieces around to accommodate an impact bat of Springer’s caliber. Since Opening Day 2019, Springer has been 53 percent better than a league-average bat, by measure of wRC+. Only six players in that time top his mark of 153: Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon.