With the Blue Jays having been eliminated from the postseason last night at the hands of the Twins, Toronto is beginning to shift its focus toward the coming offseason. That includes left-handed slugger Brandon Belt, who yesterday expressed uncertainty regarding whether or not he’ll continue playing in 2024.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Belt told reporters (including Keegan Matheson of MLB.com) following the club’s defeat in Minnesota last night. “This could be the end for me… I just don’t know yet. It’s something I need to talk to my family about and see what their thoughts are on it and see how I feel about it in a couple of months, then go from there.”
Belt, a veteran of 13 major league seasons, debuted with the Giants back in 2011, won World Series rings with the club in both 2012 and 2014, and made his only career All Star appearance back in 2016. 2023 marked the first season of his career he spent outside the Giants organization after he signed a one-year, $9.3MM deal to join the Blue Jays this past offseason. While the 35-year-old has been effective as ever at the plate in recent years, with a .258/.369/.503 slash line since the start of the 2020 season that includes a 138 wRC+ effort this year, the veteran has dealt with injuries more and more frequently in recent years.
Belt has been limited to just 278 games thanks to injuries over the last three seasons, which saw him wind up on the IL a whopping seven times with issues ranging from a fractured thumb to knee and hamstring issues. While Belt’s effectiveness at the plate would surely draw interest from a variety of clubs, particularly given the lack of impact bats available in free agency, given his age and injuries it’s understandable that the slugger wants to ponder his future before committing to a return.
Other pending free agents also spoke to reporters yesterday (including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet), with lefty veteran Hyun Jin Ryu among them. Ryu just wrapped up the final year of his four-year, $80MM pact with Toronto. After kicking off his time with the Blue Jays by finishing as a finalist in AL Cy Young award voting during the 2020 season, Ryu posted roughly average numbers (4.37 ERA, 4.02 FIP) in 2021 before missing most of the 2022 and 2023 seasons thanks to Tommy John surgery.
Overall, the 36-year-old southpaw posted a 3.97 ERA and 4.02 FIP in 315 innings of work with the Blue Jays, including a 3.46 ERA across eleven starts this season after returning from surgery. Ryu confirmed to reporters yesterday that he hopes to continue pitching in MLB in 2024, and even in a deep free agent class for starting pitching options, it seems reasonable to expect Ryu to find a big league deal somewhere. While the veteran’s injury history is fairly lengthy, he’s been effective when healthy since debuting with the Dodgers back in 2013, with a career 3.27 ERA and 3.53 FIP. That said, it would be reasonable to expect the veteran to be limited to one-year offers given his recent surgery and middling peripherals since returning back in August (4.91 FIP, 4.70 SIERA).
While the future of both Belt and Ryu in Toronto is currently up in the air, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi did reveal one member of the Blue Jays who won’t be returning for 2024: longtime third base coach Luis Rivera, who is retiring after 11 years in the role with Toronto. After playing in the majors for 11 seasons, Rivera managed in the minor leagues for both Toronto and Cleveland before settling into his role as third base coach of the Blue Jays.