With a fair number of positional players heading towards free agency for the Toronto Blue Jays at the conclusion of the 2023 MLB season, we had previously looked at the potential options for both second base and third base for the ballclub in 2024. In addition to those two positions, Jays’ outfielder Kevin Kiermaier will most likely be entering the free agent market as well, so what are the options available in terms of his replacement?
Here, we rank the possible options for the Jays to pursue in the upcoming 2023-24 offseason to help fill the void in their center field position.
Option 1: External addition(s)
Among the available center fielders that will enter the free agent pool, there is one attractive candidate that stands above the rest, and that is Cody Bellinger. The former NL MVP had a huge bounce back season this year with the Cubs after enduring almost three years of mediocrity from 2020-2022. In 130 games, Bellinger batted a career-high .307 with an .881 OPS, along with 95 runs scored, 29 doubles, 26 home runs, 97 RBI, and 20 stolen bases, all while providing some steady defence in field as well. For the Jays who had been lacking a run-producing, power bat for much of the 2023 season, Bellinger would certainly be the ideal replacement in center field. However, the main issue would be the term he is looking for and how much would it cost to sign him if so. If the price and term happens to be just right, we could be seeing another star joining the Jays’ lineup in the foreseeable future.
If that doesn’t end up working out, the Jays can fallback on some other solid options including Michael Taylor and Adam Duvall. Taylor would be the closest to an exact Kiermaier-type replacement that the Jays can find, as he can similarly provide the right balance between strong defence along with some offensive output at the same time. In 2023 with the Twins, Taylor hit .220 with 48 runs scored, 14 doubles, 21 home runs, 51 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. With regards to his defence, the former Gold Glove winner had two stellar seasons in which he had 19 DRS in each of 2021 and 2022, before falling to 5 DRS for the 2023 season. Moreover, Taylor has proven to be a winner in the past, as he won the World Series with the Washington Nationals back in 2019. So bringing in that veteran leadership along with the championship-winning mentality could provide a huge boost to the ballclub in their championship aspirations.
For Duvall, he is coming off a strong season with the Boston Red Sox in which he posted a .247 batting average, .834 OPS, along with 45 runs scored, 21 home runs and 58 RBI in just 92 games played. He also had won a Gold Glove just two years ago, but because he is getting up there in age, his main calling card in recent years may be more his offence now than his defence. If the Jays are looking more for a power bat, Duvall will certainly fit the bill, especially if the Jays are aiming for a short-term deal.
Chance of this happening: Low