Blue Jays GM says “we’ll miss” Chapman, Belt, and Kiermaier, team will look at “opportunities to work to fill those holes from within and externally”
Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
It doesn’t look like Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, or Kevin Kiermaier will be back with the Toronto Blue Jays next season.
When making his end-of-season address with the media on Saturday, general manager Ross Atkins spoke about one of the team’s strengths being its foundation heading into a weak free agent class this off-season. He noted that the team will miss a few veteran players but will explore replacing them both internally and externally.
“[We have] a really strong group to build upon in a really weak free agent market class,” Atkins said. “It’s a good year to have a great foundation. The bulk of our team is returning. We’ll miss Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, and Kevin Kiermaier. We’ll see opportunities to work to fill those holes from within and externally.”
Chapman was acquired ahead of the 2022 season from the Oakland A’s and is eligible to become a free agent for the first time in his career this winter. He slashed a .234/.327/.429 line with 44 home runs and 130 RBIs over two seasons with the Blue Jays and provided the team with excellent defence at third base. The Blue Jays will surely issue Chapman a qualifying offer and will receive draft pick compensation if he signs with another team.
Both Belt and Kiermaier were coming off of injury-riddled seasons in 2022 and inked one-year contracts in free agency with the Blue Jays. Belt was among Toronto’s better hitters as he posted a .858 OPS and hit 19 home runs across 404 plate appearances. Kiermaier suited up for 129 games and provided the Blue Jays with his best offensive season in years and gave them Gold Glove calibre defence in centre field.
Young lefty Spencer Horwitz is a likely candidate to take over Belt’s spot while Daulton Varsho will likely become Toronto’s primary centre fielder without Kiermaier in the picture. Replacing Chapman’s glove at third will be a challenge but prospects Addison Barger and Orelvis Martinez both carry a lot of offensive upside.
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