The Winter Meetings have come and gone. For the first time since 2019, the meetings of MLB’s general managers, other staff and players alike came together in San Diego.
It was a frenzied couple of days with numerous top-tier free agents coming off the board. For the Toronto Blue Jays, however, it seems as though they never arrived. While that obviously wasn’t the case and numerous members of the Blue Jays brass made appearances, including Ross Atkins and John Schneider, the team left the meetings making zero major league transactions.
There was interest in big name free agents like Justin Verlander and Brandon Nimmo, both of whom joined the New York Mets, as well as other mid-tier free agents. Having missed out on just about every free agent of interest so far, attention must be put onto who still remains.
The needs still exist for a starting pitcher and an outfielder. With two of the biggest names to fill those needs coming off of the board over the past week, sights need to be set somewhere else. Looking at free agents like Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, or a trade fit with Arizona for one of their outfielders are all storylines being pushed around Blue Jays land. However, there still remains one target that has sparingly been discussed, Michael Brantley.
"Dr. Smooth" has been connected to the Jays for what feels like forever. It was believed that he had actually signed with the Blue Jays back in winter of 2021, only for that to be false. Brantley received season ending surgery in August to repair an injured shoulder, and enters free agency at a point where the only reasonable expectation for a contract would be a short-term deal.
Over 64 games last season, Brantley slashed .288/.370/.416 equating to a 125 OPS+ while splitting time between DH and left field. The aging slugger has lost some power, but has remained an effective hitter into his mid-thirties, with a 124 OPS+ since 2019.
Brantley plans on playing next season, and with both the Blue Jays positional needs and need for a left-handed hitter, they make an excellent fit. Combine that with the fact that Brantley and George Springer are good friends, I see Brantley as a likely suitor to come in, platoon between DH and the corner outfield, and provide a left-handed veteran presence in the lineup.