It's been a crazy offseason so far in Toronto, with the Blue Jays being linked to a whole host of major players, including Juan Soto and a certain Shohei Ohtani. It's not all been one way however, with speculation they could part company with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
With this in mind, there's another player who could be on his way out of Toronto, at least according to Sportsnet's Jeff Blair. The host of Blair & Barker is reporting that while it's not a priority, he's heard the Blue Jays might try to get out from under George Springer's deal as part of their offseason work.
As you'd expect, there are differing opinions on if this is a good idea for the Blue Jays. In one respect, Springer is a veteran leader who has an impressive body of work, which includes being named the MVP of a World Series which he won with his former team, the Astros.
Springer's had a strong career in general, with other accolades such as four All-Star selections and two Silver Slugger awards. It was little surprise, when the Blue Jays broke the bank to sign him to the largest contract in team history.
However, as much as the Blue Jays quite rightly did what they had to at the time to secure Springer's services, it was always going to come at a cost, both literally and metaphorically. As the years pass, his contract is becoming more of a hindrance, due to his decreasing productivity.
Declining numbers at the plate
Since Springer's first season in Toronto -- when he was limited to 78 games due to injuries -- he's seen a decline in his OBP, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+ in each subsequent campaign. (This past season he also had his worst batting average since his rookie year back in 2014.) Now at age 34, he just isn't the player he used to be.
Some people will understandably counter this, with arguments such as Springer being second on the team in home runs and third in RBI this past season. However, while it might show he does still have something, this is more indicative of the Blue Jays' lineup just underperforming as a collective.
As per Jays Journal's Edward Eng, consider that at one point during 2023, Springer had a 0-for-35 slump at the plate. As a result, the Blue Jays had to resort to moving him out of his leadoff spot, in an attempt to get him out of his funk.
Some positives mixed with more negatives
In the interest of fairness and objectivity, it should be noted Springer was above average, when it came to hitting with RISP. As per his MVP-winning performance during the World Series in 2017, he's always been able to step up when the pressure is intensified.
Overall though, it still appears Springer's offensive production is headed in the wrong direction. Although for what it's worth, FanGraphs do have him projected in 2024 to hit his most home runs and RBI since 2019.
Another factor to consider, is Springer's declining play on defence. Even moving him from centre field to right field couldn't offset the clear drop in his ability to play in the outfield.
As such, again while stressing Blair indicates it isn't a priority, you can at least appreciate why the Blue Jays are apparentely considering moving Springer. As things stand he has three years remaining on his deal, with a base salary of $22.5M per season.
However, assuming the Blue Jays do proceed and find someone to take on a mid-30s player with a significant salary -- which they may need to agree to continue paying part off -- it still isn't necessarily straightforward. This is because Springer has a eight-team no-trade clause.
Overall, it will be interesting to see if Blair's report has any legs and if it does lead to anything down the road. For now though, Springer will be a member of the Blue Jays in 2024.