Blue Jays: Ranking the offseason free agent signings

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The Blue Jays spent the tenth most money in free agency this offseason for a total of $89.8M amongst four players. Each signee comes with high expectations and fills holes in certain positions of need. Though there were several minor league signings as well, let’s rank the Blue Jays’ major league free agent signings. 

No. 4: 1B/DH Brandon Belt

Two-time World Series Champion and longtime San Francisco Giant, Brandon Belt signed a one-year, $9.3M contract with the Jays as is expected to platoon the DH position with Danny Jansen. Belt has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, including right knee surgery this past September. When healthy, the 12-year veteran has delivered several strong seasons with the Giants, including a career high in home runs in 2021 with 29 and key contributions to the 2012 and 2014 World Series Championships. Bringing a strong left-handed bat and more veteran leadership was a priority for the Jays and Belt fills multiple needs including proven production against righties. This may not be the most glamorous signing, but Belt should be a quiet yet consistent contributor to this offence if he can stay healthy.

No. 3: RHP Chad Green

Longtime Yankees reliever Chad Green signed a two-year contract worth $8.5M. The only reason why Green is ranked as the third best offseason free agent signing is because he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Prior to the injury, Green was one of the more reliable non-closer relief pitchers in the league, racking up a 3.17 ERA along with a 32.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.4 percent walk rate throughout his career. Assuming Green returns to his dominant form once healthy, he should immediately take over a high-leverage relief role and be a key contributor out of the bullpen. Also, should Romano get injured, Green would offer a reliable closing option with experience at the position. Should Green return to full health at some point this upcoming season, this signing could further bolster the top end depth in the bullpen and help get crucial outs between starters and Romano.

No. 2: CF Kevin Kiermaier

Kevin Kiermaier spent his first 10 major league seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and has worked up a strong reputation as one of the best defensive outfielders in the entire league. Signing a one-year deal worth $9M with the Jays, Kiermaier is expected to take over the team’s everyday center field duties from George Springer, who will move to right field. The Indiana native owns the second most Defensive Runs Saved in the majors since taking over as a full-time player with the Rays in 2014. Although he has never really impressed at the plate, his defensive skills make up for his lack of offensive production. Kiermaier will likely hit ninth but should chip in every once in a while, giving him opportunities to showcase his speed on the base paths. Overall, Kiermaier brings elite defensive skills at a premier position, he should be the second most valuable free agent acquisition from this offseason. 

No. 1: RHP Chris Bassitt

Former Oakland Athletic and New York Met Chris Bassitt signed a three-year deal worth $63M with the Jays, setting him up to replace the departed Ross Stripling in the rotation. Bassitt has been among the best pitchers in the American League over the past four seasons, racking up winning records and ERA’s below 4.00 in all four seasons as a member of the A's. The 6-foot-5 right hander throws six pitches according to Statcast Pitch Arsenal on Baseball Savant, which allows him to keep hitters guessing. This is evident by his AVG Exit Velocity ranking in the 95th percentile and his HardHit% ranking in the 87th percentile last season. His 22.6 percent strikeout rate ranked just around league average, though his 6.6 percent walk rate was solidly below the league average of 7.3 percent. Bassitt has all the potential in the world to solidify the middle of this rotation, and will be the most valuable 2023 free agent signing for the Jays.

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