Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Brandon Belt, despite having a miserable start to the season, he has certainly been a key player on their roster so far for 2023. After working out of his funk in the first month, Belt has provided the ballclub with some valuable offensive output, compiling a solid stats line of a .250 batting average, .834 OPS, 130 OPS+, 47 runs scored, 15 home runs and 37 RBI for the season. In addition, he has also provided some veteran leadership for the young Jays’ team with his breadth of major league experience over his 13-year career.
As the end of the 2023 season approaches, Belt will be entering free agency, since he had only signed a one-year deal with the Jays during the 2022-23 offseason after coming off season-ending knee surgery the season prior. In one of our recent articles, we have touched upon the potential of bringing Belt back beyond this season to help the Jays in the near future. The very same topic happened to be brought up once again on a recent podcast by Foul Territory, in which Belt was invited to be one of their guests on the show. In the podcast (after the 22 minute mark), one of the main items Belt was asked about included his plans in the upcoming offseason as a veteran entering free agency, and he had this to say.
"Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a little bit different this year … I was a free agent after 2021 but we were going into that sort of lockout situation with the PA and MLB, so that was kind of a weird offseason for me. I didn’t get to do the whole free agency thing. It was, I signed the qualifying offer, but you know this is a little bit different than last year obviously ... I think I’m gonna have a few more options next year, but I am getting up there in age, so you know it might turn a lot of people off."
However, even with the potential next contract in mind, Belt dropped a surprising hint that he may have some other plans as well.
"But you know I’m still trying to figure out kind of what I want to do. I’m 35 this year, I got two boys that are getting older and it’s getting tougher on all of us. For me, you know, when I’m gone all the time, so this is something that you know I got to take into consideration and figure out whether I want to keep going or go home and be with my family."
When asked how much he had left in the tank, Belt still felt he had plenty to offer. But once again, he reiterated the fact that he was keeping his potential options open, as anything, including retirement to be with his family, remained a possibility.
"I think physically and mentally as far as baseball goes, I got a lot left in the tank. I feel like I can go a few more years and play good productive baseball. I feel like I can be competitive and I think that’s the tough part that you know every ball player has to come to at some point … You have a choice of whether you want to keep playing or retire, but you know, we’re all competitors … it’s hard to stop competing when you know you can compete at the highest level. But I think when you think about your family, how tough it’s been on them and how tough it’s been on me over the past couple of years to be away from them, that definitely takes the toll … As far as baseball goes, I love the game of baseball, I love playing baseball, I love being on the field. It’s a lot of the other stuff that I get tired of, you know, the travelling and being at the field for hours and hours and hours at a time, being away from the family. So it’s a lot of stuff I got to consider this offseason. I’m just not sure where I’m headed yet."
More importantly in the end, when Belt was asked if the Blue Jays will make the playoffs, Belt quickly responded without hesitation and with absolute confidence.
"Yes, the Blue Jays will make the playoffs. I believe that we’re going to step up and we’re going to do what needs to be done to make the playoffs."
So the future of Belt and his career may be unknown yet, but one thing is for sure, he has guaranteed the Blue Jays will be making the playoffs by the end of this year. And if they do end up making it and go on a long postseason run, with the bundles of joys and excitement that it may bring along, it may be enough make Belt think twice again before calling it a career for good.