Ex-Blue Jays DH stuck in free agency: 'There hasn't been a team that wants me'

Somebody sign the man!

Aug 22, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Brandon Belt (13) runs
Aug 22, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Brandon Belt (13) runs / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2024 regular season gets underway, there's still multiple serviceable veterans available on the free agent market. This past offseason was a weird one, as stars such as Blake Snell, JD Martinez, Matt Chapman and Cody Bellinger did not sign until very late in the game.

Still unemployed are the likes of Tommy Pham, AJ Pollock, Austin Meadows, Mike Clevinger, Vince Velasquez, Wil Myers and Brandon Belt.

Sure, there are cases for and against each of these players. For the most part, they're all aging and aren't quite the star-caliber talents they once were. But Belt's case in particular is an interesting one.

Of the group of remaining free agents, Belt had far and away the best year out of the bunch in 2023. He made it into 103 games for the Toronto Blue Jays and was, in many ways, their best hitter.

Belt hit 19 home runs with 43 RBI, as well as posting an .858 OPS and 136 OPS+. He struggled in the clutch and once again had some issues with durability, but he was a heavily-relied-upon contributor in the club's starting lineup last season.

Why in the world is Brandon Belt still a free agent?

Belt, 35, recently jumped on The JD Bunkis Podcast and answered this question for himself.

"It’s kind of baffled me a little bit. I honestly haven’t had hardly any calls at all that have gone past the point of teams saying, Hey, we’re interested, that they were just checking in." He continued to say that no teams have engaged in any sort of monetary talks, and that he was regularly told that clubs are only interested in him if they can't land their top targets. It’s been kind of confusing because last year I was coming off a season where I was injured the entire season and it was pretty easy to sign last year. I had quite a few teams calling, quite a few teams wanted me to come play for them, and this year it’s just been basically zero. I don’t know how to explain it. There just hasn’t been a team that’s wanted me."

"They were typically going after some long-term guy and if they didn’t get him, then they were going to call back," Belt said to Bunkis. "It just so happened that pretty much every one of them got their guy they were going for, and nobody called back.

At varying times during this past offseason, Belt engaged in conversations with Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins, but nothing came to fruition. Eventually, the Jays signed both Daniel Vogelbach, who made the Opening Day roster, and Joey Votto, who is starting the year in Triple-A but could come up and help the big league squad in the near future.

This left Belt without a spot on the roster. He performed admirably last year, and it's worth wondering why the Jays opted to replace him with a Vogelbach-Votto combination.

Belt had previously contemplated retirement and hasn't gotten to the point where he'd settle for a minor league contract, so for now he waits for the phone to ring. Despite the fact that he has durability question marks, he's a highly respected leader in clubhouses and is an extremely popular player.

The odds of Belt sitting on the free agent market for the entire year feel slim. Injuries always find a way to pop up, so he should land a job on a big league roster in the near future. For now, it just remains a mystery why so many teams have avoided the commitment to him.