3 ex-Blue Jays make “top remaining free agents” list prior to 2024 season

Which former Jays are still without a team for 2024, but will likely find a home pretty soon according to The Athletic?

Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

With spring training upon us, it is time for another exciting season ahead for our beloved Toronto Blue Jays and their quest for another playoff run. With the players gearing up and getting ready in the coming days, there are still some former Blue Jays that have yet to secure a home for the 2024 season. Among them are actually three players that made The Athletic’s Top 10 remaining MLB free agents list (subscription required). They include Matt Chapman, Hyun Jin Ryu and Brandon Belt. Whit Merrifield was also on the list as a fourth former Jay, but he just landed with the Phillies on a one-year deal.

Chapman, coming in at No. 4, surprisingly still remains a free agent. As the top third baseman in the market, it was expected he would have landed a multi-year contract by now, but things have been progressing slowly for the four-time Gold Glover. In 2023, Chapman posted a .755 OPS with 17 home runs and 54 RBI in 140 games for a slightly off year in terms of his usual production. The Athletic predicted that the Jays and San Francisco Giants are the frontrunners at this point, but with the Giants showing strong interest in recent weeks, they should have the best chance of the two to secure Chapman’s services.

In the 8th spot, the ever-reliable Hyun Jin Ryu is still available as a starting pitching option. After all, he did perform admirably for the Jays down the stretch after coming back from his Tommy John surgery. However, with his injury history in recent years, he likely won’t be able to land a multi-year deal or if he does, it should include multiple performance clauses as a safety net. The Athletic predicted non-contending teams such as the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics, or a contending team with high injury risks to their rotation like the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals would seem great fits.

Finally, rounding out in the 9th spot is none other than Belt. When the Jays signed free agent Justin Turner, it unofficially ruled out the potential return of the veteran designated hitter to the club as they had found his ideal replacement. Belt batted .254 with a stellar .858 OPS, along with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 103 games played in 2023. A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Belt has decided to continue his career and that a deal had been discussed. However, nothing has arisen since then. Nevertheless, the Texas Rangers appear to be the frontrunners with The Athletic suggesting the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins could be in play as well with their aging and/or defence-deficient first basemen.

One thing is for certain, given their abilities and solid track record, they should be able to find a home by the start of the 2024 season, it’s just a matter of when. And with all the uncertainty happening throughout this offseason, who knows, we might even be surprised with a sudden Jays reunion with one of them for a feel-good story heading into the regular season.