When the Toronto Blue Jays pivoted to sign veteran free agent Justin Turner to a one-year deal recently, it indirectly signalled the end to a potential reunion with Brandon Belt. With Belt hinting at the possibility of retirement near the end of last season, the uncertainty in his playing status going forward may have played a role in the Jays pursuit of other viable options.
Well, as recently reported by The Athletic (subscription required), it appears as though Belt has finally made his decision and confirmed that he will indeed continue his MLB career this upcoming season. In fact, he is close to signing a contract already.
One of the favourites for the potential landing spot for Belt could be the reigning World Series champions Texas Rangers, as rumours revealed that they had recently expressed interest in recruiting the 13-year veteran. He would make a solid replacement for the departed Mitch Garver, who signed on with the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason through free agency.
For the career .261 hitter and .817 OPS across 1413 games, Belt provides the reliability and productivity that could help a contending team to flourish. Not only that, he also brings with him his leadership and breadth of postseason experience with two World Series titles literally under his ‘belt’. Last year, he proved that he still got some game left in him when he bounced back from a sub-par 2022 season with a solid season with the Jays.
In 2023, Belt amassed a .254 batting average with an .858 OPS, along with 53 runs scored, 23 doubles, 19 home runs, 43 RBI and 61 walks in just 103 games played. Considering the fact that he had an awful start to the season as well, that made his final production numbers that much more impressive.
For the Jays, they have now essentially replaced the left-handed hitting Belt with the right-handed version in Turner. Whether the team acted too fast in finding a replacement for their DH spot, or perhaps Belt didn’t have the intention to re-sign with the ballclub, remains unknown. But for a team that once focussed on adding and strengthening their left-handed bats to balance out their lineup more last season, only time will tell whether the reversion back to the norm of being a right-handed heavy lineup will have any effect on the team long term.