Veteran first baseman Brandon Belt surprisingly remains unsigned

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Georges
17 days ago
Former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Brandon Belt is still without an employer as the season’s weekend games wrapped up. He spoke out about this on Friday, saying that he’s been “baffled” by the lack of interest in his services.
The long-time San Francisco Giant has played in 13 Major League seasons, with an impressive .817 career OPS. It would be fair to assume that his skills have declined into his later years, but this hasn’t exactly been the case. After a 3.5 WAR season in 2021, Belt followed it up with his worst season as a pro in 2022, amassing just a 0.1 WAR season.
Hitting free agency coming off a down year at 34 years old was “pretty easy” for Belt, as he apparently had many other suitors aside from Toronto, where he would end up signing. He compiled a 2.3 WAR on the heels of an impressive 15.1% walk rate, as getting on base has always been an area where he has excelled.
Belt mentioned that he was told that he was several teams’ second choice, but that all of those teams ended up signing their preferred option instead. One of those teams may have actually been the Blue Jays, who signed free agent Justin Turner to be their primary DH this season.
It is worth mentioning that Belt has struggled to stay healthy for the majority of his career, with games played totals of 51, 97, 78, and 103 over the last four seasons. The durability concerns, combined with the fact that Belt was not looking to sign a Minor League contract, likely scared teams away. That being said, there is little doubt that the Nacogdoches, Texas native is a better starting option than many players currently slated into lineups around the league. Ultimately, there may just not be the right team that wants to give those reps to a veteran for a season at the expense of developing a younger player.
There is, of course, the possibility that a team suffers an injury in the first few weeks of the season and gives the 35-year-old a shot. However, the longer he goes unsigned, the more likely he will need a significant stretch of games in the Minor Leagues to get ready for live pitching. Even with his lengthy injury history, few are debating that Belt can still swing it. Time will tell if he gets a starting opportunity this season, or if his productive career may be coming to a close.


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