Best: Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu is a great first baseman, but he’s not a good fit for the Blue Jays. He’s a bit too old (33 in 2020), too expensive, and has declined the past two years.
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Realistic: Justin Smoak
One of the main reasons why Jose Abreu isn’t a good fit is because Justin Smoak is a free agent option. Smoak is the same age as Abreu, will cost less, and is highly respected in the Blue Jays clubhouse. The one concern with re-signing Smoak, or signing any free agent first baseman for that matter, is the possible timeshare dilemma that will arise with Rowdy Tellez‘s presence on the roster. And, though Smoak is a leader and can make positive contributions to the team, he’s too old to be a part of the future core. Would he accept a leadership role while only playing on a semi-regular basis? It’s a storyline to keep an eye on as the Blue Jays negotiate with Smoak this offseason.
Intriguing: Howie Kendrick
Howie Kendrick is coming off of a World Series championship. In 2019, his age 36 season, he was still electric as he batted .344/.395/.572 with 17 home runs in 121 games. Those offensive numbers were backed by an elite exit velocity (91.6 mph, 92nd percentile) and hard-hit percentage (48.3%, 94th percentile).
Given Kendrick’s age, it’s hard to imagine he’ll ask for a big contract. If the price is right and Justin Smoak is off the market, then Kendrick should be a name that the Blue Jays pursue as their part-time first baseman and utility player, if he doesn’t choose to retire or return to the World Series champion Nationals.