Blue Jays: Is Toronto finally starting to become a hot free agent destination?

Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Don't look now, but the Toronto Blue Jays might finally be starting to become an attractive free agent destination in Major League Baseball.

To date, the Blue Jays have signed righties Chris Bassitt and Chad Green to shore up their pitching staff, Brandon Belt to function as the primary designated hitter and Kevin Kiermaier to give the club one of the best defensive outfielders of the past two decades.

A common theme of the 2022-2023 offseason is seeing players leave the only club they've ever known in favor of either a better opportunity or more money elsewhere. Three of the four big name signings by the Jays fit this mold.

With Kiermaier, the Jays were able to coerce a player who has spent the past 10 years in the same uniform, playing with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2013 through last season. He has had his fair share of troubles staying healthy in recent years, but the man can play defense with the best of them. He was the first big name free agent to sign and, if healthy, will give the Jays their best defender since Kevin Pillar in his prime.

Belt is even more of a surprise. He chose to leave the Giants, the club he played for for the past 12 years and won two World Series Championships with. The Giants had been interested in bringing him back on a cheap, short-term deal but he chose Toronto. Yes, he loves the chicken fingers in town (if you don't know this story, please look it up), but he also loves the culture that this club has put together. Stealing him from San Francisco is a big accomplishment for this Jays club that is looking to be more attractive on the free agent market.

Then there's Green, 31, who has been a strong reliever for the Yankees for each of the past seven years. He, like Belt, had interest from his former club, but instead chose to head to a rival of the Yankees. He's going to miss the majority of this season but his unique contract structure will keep him around for at least another year.

Before this huge increase in players leaving their long-time homes to join the Jays, there are occasional examples of this happening in the past, see: George Springer and Hyun Jin Ryu. Beyond that, there's not much.

Of course, there were players that the Jays targeted this offseason but didn't end up bringing aboard. The club had reportedly pursued each of Xander Bogaerts (Padres), Brandon Nimmo (Mets), Kyle Gibson (Orioles) and Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox) before they ended up signing with other clubs. However, each of these four players that the Jays "missed out on" also came with their fair share of red flags. There must be a reason that a competitive offer was not put in by Ross Atkins and Co.

In year's past, the list is much, much more painful than the quartet from this offseason. Here are some of the free agent names that the Blue Jays were finalists for in the past decade or so, but never secured a deal with:

*Editor's note, the years in parentheses are the upcoming seasons in the offseason they were targeted.

Prince Fielder (2012), Yu Darvish (2012), Zack Greinke (2013, 2016), Anibal Sánchez (2013), Kyle Lohse (2013), Ryan Dempster (2013), Scott Baker (2013), Jon Lester (2015), Byung-Ho Park (2016), Craig Stammen (2016), Yusmeiro Petit (2016), CC Sabathia (2018), Carlos Gómez (2018), Carlos González (2019), Eduardo Núñez (2019), DJ LeMahieu (2021)


As much as it hurts to see that, there's real hope in the team that is currently assembled in Toronto. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are two of the most exciting players in all of baseball.

Add Alejandro Kirk, a young catcher whose prime is only just beginning, to that mix.

Add Daulton Varsho, one of the newest members of the club, who is also just hitting his prime and is an incredible defender at all three spots in the outfield, and you have one hell of a team.

This is just on offense. Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman represent one of the strongest starting pitching duos in the entire game. Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson are two backend, high-leverage pitchers who will see save chances and a ton of important innings. Adam Cimber, Anthony Bass and Yimi García are three strong middle-relief options on hand as well.

You get the point. This Blue Jays club is built for success from top to bottom. With young, promising new manager John Schneider in tow, free agents are starting to see this and are finding it a whole lot easier to head north and see what Toronto has in store for them. Throw in Ricky Tiedemann, arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in the game, for good measure, and this team looks like the real deal for quite some time.

It's time to give Adam Cimber the respect he deserves. dark. Next