When the 2023 MLB season ended, the Toronto Blue Jays had a total of seven free agents. Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Chapman, and Jordan Hicks are just the names of some players that fans would love to see back on the team for the 2024 season and beyond. Some players including Chapman have expressed their interest in returning to the team. Other players such as Hyun Jin Ryu have stated that the team they play on does not matter, as long as they stay in the MLB. With many of the former Blue Jays hinting that they are looking towards a different path with another team, let’s take a look at three former Blue Jays and where they could be headed.
The Potential Futures of Three Former Blue Jays Players
Since the Blue Jays failed to acquire Shohei Ohtani, they must turn their focus to Matt Chapman, one of the more valuable free agents this offseason. The Blue Jays require a third baseman and Chapman seems like the perfect fit.
Chapman previously played for the Oakland Athletics for five years before being traded to Toronto during the 2022 season. He has expressed his love for the team and city in press conferences multiple times. Could this be hinting at a possible return?
Chapman and the Blue Jays seem like the perfect combination, but the Blue Jays have some competition. Many teams are interested in Chapman, including the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and the San Fransisco Giants. With a market value of approximately $17.236 million and many teams needing a third baseman for the 2024 season, it looks like Chapman will be receiving a large paycheck for the next few years.
Although his statistics are nothing extraordinary, he has a solid batting average at .240, as well as 17 home runs and 54 runners batted in during the 2023 season. What sets him apart from other third-basemen free agents are his defense skills.
With Scott Boras as his agent, Chapman is sure to see a hefty multi-year contract before the next season starts.
With lots of new and younger options entering the market, the demand for Brandon Belt has been slowly decreasing.
Having previously played for the San Fransisco Giants for 12 years before becoming a free agent and signing a one-year contract with the Blue Jays, Belt has had lots of experience playing in an MLB ballpark.
Not many teams have shown interest in signing Belt, as more teams are now wanting players to sign a multi-year contract. Many have predicted that Belt might sign a one-year contract or just head for retirement. In press conferences, he has stated that although he feels he has a few seasons left in him, he just wants to be able to spend time with his family.
During the 2023 regular season, he had a batting average of .254, as well as 19 home runs. He was on the injured list multiple times during the season. One time being in June he had to leave due to left hamstring inflammation, and he only returned later that month. In September Belt was again placed on the injured list for ten days as he was having lumbar spine muscle spasms. He also previously had a viral stomach illness causing him to miss the majority of the September games.
With a market value of only $2.554 million, it might be time for Belt to just call it a day.
Having declined his $18 million mutual option for the 2024 season, Whit Merrifield had become a free agent.
The 34-year-old second baseman had a salary of $4.062 million during the 2023 season. Having previously played for the Kansas City Royals for seven years before being traded to the Blue Jays. The Silver Slugger nominee has a market value of approximately $6.466 million according to Sportac.
Merrifield had a batting average of .272 and had 67 runners batted in. The three-time American League All-Star was a part of the MLB Team of the Month for July.
The Boston Red Sox have shown high interest in acquiring Merrifield to their team. They have stated that the club’s ideal second baseman would be a right-handed hitter with good defense. This makes Merrifield seem like the perfect fit.
Overall, these free agents have multiple teams wanting to sign them, many of whom are willing to pay. Though it isn’t a guarantee that these specific teams will sign the players, all we know is that they will be seeing a large contract on their desk at the end of the day.
Main Image: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports