Brandon Belt

Why is Brandon Belt Still Unsigned After .859 OPS in 2023?

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Nowadays, no Brandon Belt news is actually bad news for the former all-star and two-time World Series champ. A month into the 2024 MLB season, Belt remains a free agent despite his plans to play this year.

So what’s holding up Brandon Belt’s free agency and why is a player who posted an OPS of .859 last year still unsigned?

Reasons Brandon Belt Remains Unsigned

To be fair, there hasn’t been much Brandon Belt news lately because he’s probably not among the greatest first basemen of all time. He surely was never going to be the top first baseman in 2024 either.

His days of being an elite first baseman are over. But Belt proved last year with the Blue Jays that his career isn’t over yet. Let’s look at why he remains without a team this deep into the season.

Everybody’s Second Choice

The problem with Belt signing before the season wasn’t that he wasn’t on anybody’s radar. There were at least half a dozen teams in contract with him. However, Belt appeared to be a backup option for most of those teams.


For instance, the Giants ended up with Jorge Soler rather than bringing Belt back to the Bay Area. The Blue Jays, rather than re-sign Belt, signed veterans Justin Turner and Daniel Vogelbach. Likewise, the Mets signed J.D. Martinez, the Diamondbacks added Joc Pederson, and the Angels signed Miguel Sano, all taking spots that Belt could have filled.

Lack of Versatility

Why did those teams choose someone else over Belt? His lack of versatility may have been part of the problem.

While Belt has some experience in left field, he’s spent nearly 10,000 innings at first base, which is his primary position. He doesn’t offer much defensive flexibility outside of playing first base or being a DH. Belt also has disappointing numbers in recent years against left-handed pitching, making him mostly a platoon player at either first base or in the DH spot. That somewhat limits the role he can have on a team.

Age and Injuries

Despite having a productive 2023 campaign, Belt being 36 is surely a concern with teams. His recent injury history doesn’t help him either. Since the start of the 2021 season, Belt has made eight trips to the IL.

While not all of those injuries are a consequence of Belt getting older, having eight IL stints in three years is a sign of an injury-prone player. Why would a team want to pay for a part-time player when that player is vulnerable to missing large chunks of the season? Unfortunately, being injury-plagued in recent years is a label that will be tough for Belt to overcome.


Contract Demands

Belt’s contract demands before the season could have also played a role in his remaining unemployed. The Blue Jays paid him $9.3 million in 2023, and since he produced an OPS of .859 for them, he figured he wouldn’t need to take a pay cut. He also had no interest in signing a minor-league contract, which is common for veterans on the back side of their careers who remain unsigned after the start of spring training.

That unwillingness to settle has also played a role in Belt remaining unsigned, as he thinks he’s worth more than the market says he’s worth.

Is There Still Hope for Belt?

As long as Belt wants to play, there is a chance that he’ll catch on with a team at some point in 2024. However, the deeper we get into the season, the less likely it is that somebody will sign him.

At this point, Belt will undoubtedly need to spend a considerable amount of time in the minors after signing with a team. That also hurts his chances of being a viable option if a team needs a first baseman or DH compared to an internal option. In short, the longer the season goes on, the less likely Belt is to find a home in 2024.

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