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Blue Jays apparently “still have interest” in outfielder Cody Bellinger after re-signing Kevin Kiermaier

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Photo credit:MLB Photos - Getty Images
Cam Lewis
3 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays made their first major signing of the off-season on Boxing Day.
Though the deal hasn’t yet been made official, Mark Feinsand on MLB dot com reported that Kevin Kiermaier and the Blue Jays were nearing a one-year contract. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet later confirmed the report and added the contract will be worth $10.5 million.
He’ll turn 34 years old in April and has a history of injury, so it makes sense that Kiermaier is signing another one-year contract. Kiermaier inked a one-year, $9 million deal with the Blue Jays last December after an injury-riddled final season with the Tampa Bay Rays, so this deal will feature a $1.5 raise from the last.
Kiermaier had an excellent bounce-back season playing in Toronto, as he posted his best batting average (.256) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.741) since 2017 and won his fourth Gold Glove with excellent defence in centre field. Getting anything close to that again from Kiermaier in 2024 would be a win for the Blue Jays considering the price of the contract.
The question now is what bringing back Kiermaier means for the rest of the outfield and the team’s plans moving forward. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Blue Jays still have interest in free agent Cody Bellinger, another left-handed hitting outfielder, despite the signing of Kiermaier. Nightengale also added that the Cubs “have a greater need, and desire, to [sign] Bellinger” at this stage than Toronto.
The Blue Jays often had an outfield in 2023 that consisted of Kiermaier in centre field, Daulton Varsho in left, and George Springer in right. Given the age and injury history of Kiermaier and Springer, it’s probably reasonable to assume that neither player will be playing in the field each day.
The team could still add Bellinger for his All-Star-calibre glove and bat combination and use Kiermaier as their fourth outfielder or let Springer see more time as the designated hitter. And, of course, if they do wind up striking out on Bellinger, at least they have Kiermaier to fall back on, which might not have been the case if they waited around.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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