George Springer is reportedly packing his bags and heading to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Widespread reports claim the Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract with the star free agent and World Series champion. It’s set to become the largest deal in franchise history, eclipsing Vernon Wells’ $126 million extension in 2006.
The emerging Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, had been looking to make a splash in free agency after recruiting ace left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu ahead of the 2020 campaign.
Now Toronto appears to have landed its No. 1 target and one of the most coveted free agents this offseason as it attempts to challenge the likes of the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox for American League supremacy.
Springer – the 2017 World Series MVP for the Astros – brings a wealth of postseason experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in Toronto.
Teoscar Hernandez also had a breakout 2020 season, resulting in his first Silver Slugger Award. The Blue Jays also boast No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect Nate Pearson.
But what does Springer’s arrival mean for the Blue Jays in their pursuit of a first World Series crown since 1993?
A FEARSOME PRESENCE ATOP THE LINEUP
The 31-year-old outfielder batted .265 with a team-high 14 homers and 32 RBIs in 189 at-bats as the Astros reached the ALCS last season.
Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the leadoff spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the No. 1 spot in the order over that time.
A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has homered to lead off a game 39 times in his career. That already ranks fourth all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).
Springer has also belted seven World Series home runs – the most all-time from the leadoff spot. He’s batted .339 over 56 career World Series at-bats and no other current Jays player even has a hit in the Series.
The three-time All-Star’s 174 home runs since debuting in MLB rank third in Astros history over a player’s first seven seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).
Though it remains to be seen if the Jays will play there in 2021, Springer has hit well at Rogers Centre. In 15 career games there, he’s slashed .358/.453/.604 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.
A LEADER FOR THE JAYS’ YOUNG STARS
It has been a long time since Jose Bautista’s memorable bat flip and back-to-back trips to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016.
But Guerrero, Gurriel, Bichette and Biggio have given Blue Jays fans a lot to be excited about.
The big-hitting quartet took MLB by storm during last season’s shortened campaign, helping Toronto to a 32-28 record before losing to the eventual AL champion Rays in the wild-card round.
Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to hit .300 or better with a slugging percentage of at least .500 in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).
Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games. As for Guerrero, he is the only player currently 21 years old or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.
Of players 25 or younger, the Blue Jays topped a number of categories last season. Based on age at the time of games, they had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), extra-base hits (93) and walks (103) in 2020.
With Springer now on board, there’s little doubt that the future is bright in Toronto.
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