A surprising free agent possibility
One player that was actually linked to the Blue Jays quite a bit over the last week has been Kris Bryant, which I found to be at least a bit surprising.
I’ve ranked Bryant as the fifth best option that could be available, but that’s based on a few factors other than his ability. If that was the sole focus here, then the former NL MVP is higher on the list. That said, I think Bryant is still going to command a fairly hefty contract, and likely one for a lengthy term. He won’t turn 30 until January, so he should have at least a few years of prime production left in the tank.
On the plus side, Bryant would be a pretty nice fit with the Jays to fill the hole at the hot corner, which would allow Biggio and Espinal to slide to second base. Bryant also has the ability to play throughout the outfield, which could come in handy over the course of a 162 game season, especially as the Jays rotate players through the DH spot to give their regulars a rest. He slashed .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs, 32 doubles, and 73 RBI over 513 at-bats, good for 3.3 bWAR on the year. He might not be the MVP-level performer he used to be, but he’s still very much an impact player.
For the Blue Jays, the biggest obstacle I see here is the length of the contract that Bryant is likely seeking. They likely can afford to pay him a salary of 20 million or more in 2022, but that’s going to get more difficult in a few years when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette get closer to free agency, not to mention the rest of the roster. They’ve already committed an AAV salary of 22 million to Kevin Gausman for the next five years, up to 20 million per season for the next seven years for Jose Berrios, 25 million per year for George Springer for five more, and more.
In my mind a more likely solution is that the Blue Jays find an infielder that can help them without their having to make a big-money, long-term commitment. For that reason, I have Bryant ranked fifth, even if the fit would work pretty well.