9:58pm: It’s a six-year, $150MM pact, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets.
9:54pm: The Jays and Springer have a deal, pending a physical, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweets.
9:36pm: The Blue Jays and free-agent outfielder George Springer are closing in on an agreement, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Brendon Kuhn of Blue Jays Nation first reported the two sides had a contract in place, pending a physical. Springer is a client of Excel Sports Management.
This is a monumental addition for the Blue Jays, who have been in on virtually every big name this offseason as they seek to improve their roster off a playoff campaign in 2020. The Jays had largely come up short until Tuesday, but that’s going to change with the addition of Springer.
It would be difficult to do much better on the open market than Springer, a three-time All-Star who thrived as a member of the Astros from 2014-20. Springer took 3,567 plate appearances as an Astro and batted .270/.361/.491 (134 wRC+) with 174 home runs. He helped the team to a pair of pennants and a World Series championship in the process. Springer was outstanding in the playoffs with the Astros, evidenced by his 19 home runs – the fourth most in the history of the postseason.
As a result of his success in Houston, MLBTR predicted when the offseason began that Springer would ink a five-year, $125MM contract in free agency. The Blue Jays and Mets seemingly showed more interest in the 31-year-old than anyone else this winter, and New York did offer around $120MM to $125MM over six years, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. However, Springer is taking the higher proposal – a record deal for the Jays – and heading north to join a burgeoning Toronto team that will have to overcome the Rays and Yankees in the American League East.
Springer figures to take over in center field for Toronto, which started Randal Grichuk for most of 2020 but has never seemed content with him at the position. The Springer pickup may help lead to the end of the Grichuk-Blue Jays union, as the team has Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez as corner outfield options, and it may not be done adding. According to both Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Heyman, another former Astro – Michael Brantley – is a possibility for the team in free agency. Brantley is friends with Springer and would provide Toronto yet another big bat. “There’s legit legs” regarding a Brantley-Toronto agreement, and the club’s “very open to it,” Scott Mitchell of TSN tweets.
The Springer signing will have draft-related ramifications for both the Blue Jays and Astros in 2021. Because Houston gave Springer an $18.9MM qualifying offer (which he rejected), the team will receive a fourth-round pick as compensation for his departure. For signing Springer, Toronto will surrender the No. 54 overall pick in next summer’s draft and $500K in international bonus pool money. The pick probably isn’t going to do much to make up for Springer’s exit for the Astros, though, and the Jays likely aren’t upset to lose a draft pick and pool money for signing one of baseball’s best outfielders.