The Toronto Blue Jays are signing free agent Michael Brantley to a three-year deal.
Any analysis of this deal has to focus on the length of the contracts. Brantley is 33. Springer is 31. These are free agent signings to help Toronto win in 2021 and 2022. It’s as win-now as it can get in free agency – these are deals that could hurt the franchise in their final years.
Brantley is a subpar defensive player at this stage of his career. While still a great hitter – he posted an .840 OPS in 2020 – he should be spending most of his time at DH. He played 24 games as a DH last season – is Toronto relying on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.being able to play third base everyday? Brantley will only become less viable in left as this contract runs. With Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. the Jays have plenty of competition for outfield PAs.
Injuries have been a concern in the past for Brantley, but he’s coming off three relatively healthy seasons. He’s one of the league’s best contact hitters and shows no sign in drop off in hard hit rate. There’s no question this makes the Blue Jays a better offense in 2021. Brantley, Springer, Cavan Biggo, Guerrero, Bo Bichette and Hernandez is a phenomenal offensive core. There’s the added benefit of raiding a potential American League rival, too. The Houston Astros suddenly have major outfield issues to solve.
Blue Jays outlook
Signing Brantley might cause a logjam in the outfield and/or DH, but it unquestionably makes them better in 2021. They should be one of the best run-scoring teams in MLB.
The defense is a worry. As is the pitching. The same can be said for a couple years time. These are big contracts to players already in their thirties – these are contracts many front offices have moved away from in recent offseasons.
To really take advantage of this position player spending, the Jays need to find a couple more pitchers. Toronto has gone all-in, and they must continue to do so to maximise the short-term, because they have taken a risk in 2023 and beyond.
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