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Blue Jays: An argument against signing George Springer

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 11: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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It sounds like the Blue Jays are interested in free agent outfielder George Springer. He’s a great player, but there’s a strong argument against the idea.

The free agent hot stove is slowly but surely starting to heat up a bit over the last few days, and sure enough, the Blue Jays are in the middle of a lot of the rumours flying around at the moment.

One of the latest comes from a new addition to FanSided in Robert Murray, who wrote that the Jays have “serious” interest in Springer according to his sources. Our own Clayton Richer mentioned the possibility of the Blue Jays looking at the 31-year-old last week as well, and in a lot of ways it makes sense.

However, I’d like to tell you all about why I think it’s a bad idea, and that Springer is the wrong target this offseason.

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I’m not going to pretend that he wouldn’t make the Blue Jays better, and they’d feel the difference immediately in 2021 on both sides of the ball. Springer put up impressive offensive numbers again in 2020 with a slash line of .265/.359/.560 with 14 home runs and 32 RBI. He also rated as a solid defender in centre field, and would bring an improvement at the position over Randal Grichuk, who filled the role last year.

That said, I have to wonder how much longer he could sustain that level of production, especially on defence. I’m confident that he could be an elite offensive contributor for the life of a five-year contract and maybe even longer, but I’d argue that’s not their greatest need from their centre fielder. It’s a tremendous bonus if the man up the middle can offer All-Star production with the bat, but what the Blue Jays really need is a significant improvement on defence. Springer can provide that in 2021, but how long before he’ll have to move to an outfield corner?

That brings me to my second point, and that’s the cost of acquisition. It’s a big plus that he can be signed on the free agent market, but it would come with the sacrifice of a future draft pick. That’s something that you have to get over easily enough, but it also depends on what it will take to sign Springer, both in terms of dollar amount and the term. According to mlbtraderumors.com, they have him projected for a contract of five years and 125 million, at an annual rate of 25 million. That’s a palatable salary in a lot of ways, but naturally it’ll bring other limitations in the future.

As I look at this young Blue Jays group, I see a team that I expect to start realistically contending in 2022 and beyond. I believe they’ll have a successful 2021 and take more of those important steps they need before ascending to a true championship contender, but I think they’re at least a year away. I absolutely subscribe to the idea of adding to the roster now, both for next season, and especially for beyond, but it’s the long-term lens that I’m the most concerned with. A year from now, Springer will be 32, and a year closer to moving to an outfield corner, and/or losing a step in centre. Then the question becomes, do you want to pay 25 million a year for a corner outfielder on the cusp of the downside of his career?

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For what it’s worth, I find the idea that the Blue Jays are pursuing Springer to be very exciting, and it’s further proof that they’re serious about improving this winter. However, if it were up to me, I’d probably allocate the financial resources in another direction and look for either a younger, or a shorter-term solution in centre field, like a Jackie Bradley, or possibly a trade candidate. I do like the idea of signing George Springer, but I just think there are enough arguments against it to go in another direction.

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