Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro/USA Today
Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Kevin Kiermaier is back, as Toronto’s outfield plans are seemingly in place
1 month ago
On Boxing Day, it was announced that the Blue Jays were signing their 2023 centre field Gold Glove winner, Kevin Kiermaier, to a one year deal.
Kiermaier’s 2023 was a good one for the 33-year-old, as he slashed .265/.322/.419 with eight homers in 408 plate appearances, along with a 7.1 BB% and a 21.1 K%. His 104 wRC+ was his highest total since 2017, and tied for his third highest career wRC+ in 11 seasons.
However, the majority of Kiermaier’s value came from his glove. In 981.1 innings in centre field, Kiermaier posted 18 Defensive Runs Saved and 13 Outs Above Average, earning him his fourth career Gold Glove. His DRS total was the highest since the 2017 season when he had 20 DRS, while his OAA total was the highest since 2019.
A big question mark coming into the 2023 season was Kiermaier’s health, especially as he had hip surgery during the 2022 season. Kiermaier has also been a decent bat, albeit a bit below average, along with some of the best centre field defence in history. However, he also has a history of being injury-prone while in Tampa.
Kiermaier put that question to bed, as he only had one stint on the injured list. As you can recall, he made a fantastic catch at Fenway Park, but went up against an unprotected gate and cut his elbow. He spent the minimum amount of time on the IL.
The question remains, what will the Blue Jays do the rest of the off-season? It appears their outfield is set and will remain the same as last season, with Daulton Varsho at left, Kiermaier at centre, and George Springer at right.
Perhaps, the Blue Jays can go out and sign a guy like Cody Bellinger, which would move Springer into a full-time designated hitter role, a position which brought him success his first two seasons in Toronto.
Signing Kiermaier also lowers Varsho’s value quite a lot. The 27-year-old had the highest Defensive Runs Saved in the league last season with 29 between left field and centre field. However, he failed to win a Gold Glove because he split too much time between the two positions.
While Varsho’s bat cooled off between 2022 and 2023 (went from a 107 wRC+ to an 85 wRC+), his fWAR took a big hit from his time in left field as it’s considered a less valuable position. He went from a 4.8 fWAR to a 2.1 fWAR, even though he would’ve at 4.3 fWAR if he strictly played centre field, which he is entirely capable of. However, Varsho likely won’t unless Kiermaier is injured.
Either way, the vibes of Kiermaier returning are good, but the Jays still need to do more to improve this team heading into 2024.
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