The Toronto Blue Jays have made yet another splash, this time signing first baseman Brandon Belt to a one-year, $9.3M contract.
Throughout the entire offseason so far, Belt felt like a possibility for this Blue Jays club but to many in the industry seemed more likely to return to the San Francisco Giants, where he spent the first 12 years of his big league career, winning two World Series championships along the way.
Belt, 34, swings it from the left side and brings a steady, veteran presence to this club. A 2016 All-Star Game participant, he regularly hits 15-20 home runs (career-high of 29 in 2021 in just 97 games) and has a career OPS+ of 123, meaning he's been 23 percent above league average throughout the course of his career.
Last year was a bit of a down year for Belt as he only managed to play in 78 games, making it the third consecutive season in which he appeared in under 100 games (although the COVID-shortened 2020 season shouldn't really count).
In those 78 contests last year, he hit just nine doubles and eight home runs along with 23 RBI. His batting average dipped all the way down to .213 and his OPS+ was just 92. His strikeout rate has gone up to 27 percent after steadily sitting around 20 to 23 percent throughout his career.
In September of this past campaign, Belt had arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee that has ailed him since all the way back in 2015. He told NBC Sports Bay Area in September, "I'm (only) going to play next year if I can get my knee healthy and strong again", so his new contract in Toronto means good news for him and his new club.
On his new team, Belt is likely going to be the team's primary designated hitter, perhaps splitting time there with one of Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. He is a first baseman by trade and will get reps there as well. Over the years, he has spent some time as a left fielder but don't get it twisted, his days in the grass are well behind him.
All offseason long the plan has been for the Blue Jays to add left-handed hitters to a right-handed heavy lineup. With Cavan Biggio lined up to be the most oft-used lefty, there were changes that needed to be made.
Here we are and the club has delivered on their vow to add more lefties; adding Kevin Kiermaier on a one-year contract and trading for Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks. There is little left to do for Ross Atkins and Co. aside from strengthening the pitching staff. As things currently stand, there is room for improvement in both the rotation and bullpen.