Toronto Baseball Insider Shi Davidi joined Senior Editor/Founder on The Couch for Sunday’s Podcast and reinforced Blue Jays fan hopes for impact free agent signings.
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Sunday proved an answer to many Blue Jays fans prayers.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet joined the Jays From the Couch Radio Podcast on Sunday evening and shed light on a variety of baseball issues on the minds of Blue Jays baseball fans. During the 25 minute interview, JFtC Senior Editor and Founder Shaun Doyle led the baseball insider through a discussion on the challenges of covering the team during the pandemic, the possibility of a new ballpark being built for the team, and the prospects of first-tier free agents signing with the Blue Jays.
Davidi candidly discussed the limitations of Zoom meetings for information gathering, though praised the Blue Jays for making the process of obtaining information to pass along to readers and viewers. Doyle asked about reports of the outmoded Rogers Centre being demolished and “where does the money come from?” should the Rogers-Brookfield partnership be successful in lobbying municipal and provincial officials for approval on a joint baseball-civic project. “If it’s going to happen,” Davidi opined. “It’s going to all have to happen through the private sector.” In regards to the Rogers Communications ownership reasoning behind taking on such an expensive undertaking, Shi spoke of the proposed initiative as longer-term “profit play” and a chance for development of long hoped for areas of Toronto.
But it was when listener questions from the live YouTube and Facebook Live streams got VERY INTERESTING INDEED. When discussion turned to the “name players” Toronto has been linked to since the beginning of the free agency signing period, Doyle directly asked Davidi if there was “any truth to any of them (signings), and if so, which ones have the potential of becoming a reality.” The Sportsnet insider was quick to point out that there was “legitimate engagement this year” with representatives of first-tier free agents. He presented the case for Toronto being a legitimate destination this offseason because the Blue Jays have the money to spend for players that can significantly upgrade their line-up and provide support for the further development of the team’s young core.
“As for who they’re going to sign, I feel they are legitimately on LeMahieu, legitimately on Springer, legitimately on Brantley”
Go ahead and say it out loud- “WOW!”
Let us take a close look at each of these Blue Jays-to-be and see what signing one or more the trio might mean for 2021…
Given Davidi’s previous reports on George Springer negotiations being “beyond talking”, the former Astros outfielder is the perfect spot to start our drooling, er-discussion. Davidi revealed he had been told by sources that the initial feeling out of mutual interest had been done and the potential of a partnership were now being discussed. While he was unsure that actual dollar amounts have been discussed, Davidi expressed the front office belief that Springer would be a significant upgrade in center field over Randal Grichuk and would slide atop the lineup and allow Bo Bichette to drop down into a run producing spot in the order.
MLB Trade Rumor Free Agent projections have Springer ranked as the third most desirable free agent on the market and estimates it would take a contract offer of 5 years, $125 million ($25 million AAV) corral him. There are questions about exactly why Ross Atkins would seemingly prioritize a center fielder over a starting pitcher or third basemen, especially since Springer projects as a more true right fielder, but he also projects as a significant impact bat at the top of the batting order who has experienced regular post-season success with the Astros, which places even greater value to a Springer acquisition for a team on the cusp of sustained playoff success.
Davidi also expressed a generally held belief that DJ LeMahieu would be a “perfect fit” in Toronto. LaMahieu has by all accounts been the Yankees Most Valuable Player each of the past two seasons-a value factor you will not find in ZiPS projections. His addition adds a reliable run production cog to the Jays lineup, notwithstanding any perceived reduction of home run production away from the Pony League dimensions of the right field in Yankee Stadium.
LeMahieu manning second base frees up Cavan Biggio to demonstrate whether he can be long term solution at third base or fulfill his projected destiny as a super utility player. It could also be argued that LeMahieu is the immediate answer to the need for upgrade at the hot corner and to improve infield defense by taking over for Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. at first base. MLBTR estimates the price to add LeMahieu to the Toronto clubhouse to be $68 million over 4 years (AAV $17 million), which will seem like a bargain every time he steps to the plate against a hated division rival and proceeds to break the hearts of their fans. Intrinsic value is not always expressed in a boxscore- it can be found in the incessant whining of Yankees fans whenever LeMahieu returns to the Bronx to rub it in.
A more difficult signing to rationalize would be Michael Brantley. Brantley does nothing but hit and excel in pressure situations and brought to an Astros clubhouse a sense of professionalism amidst clouds of doubt and accusation. At age 32 with his injury history seemingly a fading factor, Brantley would bring consistent run production to an erratic lineup and a veteran voice to calm and encourage the young talent on the Toronto roster.
Given that age and range limits Brantley to left field or the DH slot, adding Brantley does not immediately make much sense. But securing him at short term and for reasonable AAV (projected 2 years, $28 million-$14 million AAV) can make sense of moves that may need to be made to accommodate Brantley’s risk/reward factor. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.would be one of the best fourth outfielders/bench threats in MLB and his team-friendly contract may be the key piece to acquiring the starting pitcher everyone believes the team needs to add to seriously contend for a pennant in 2021 and beyond.
Stay tuned Blue Jays fans. The holiday gifts may soon be on their way to Toronto and we will not need to wait until Spring Training to open them.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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