Blue Jays Rogers Centre- Credit: DaveMe Images

Freeman might be worth a paradigm shift for the Blue Jays

Freddie Freeman is an MLB superstar, but would he fit with the Toronto Blue Jays roster?


Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


 

MLB’s off season is never lacking in rumours. Shortly before MLB owners officially locked out players in the MLBPA on December 2nd, retired players Carlos Baerga fueled the rumour mill in a big way when he suggested that free agent 1B Freddie Freeman could sign with the Blue Jays.

 

It is worth noting that Baerga isn’t some random person spreading unfounded rumours. He still has connections within the professional baseball world. He correctly announced that Jays signed Marcus Semien back in January and Yimi Garcia more recently. It’s at least possible that Baerga has inside information.

 

The Jays have other needs. In order to be serious contenders in 2022, they would benefit from adding an established quality fifth starter, at least one leverage relief pitcher (preferably a left handed one), and they need to decide what to do about 2B and 3B. They could go with a combination of Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal or they might look at adding 1-2 players with a recent, consistent history of success in the majors.

 

In addition to this, one question remains – how would Freeman fit in with the Blue Jays who seem to have 1B occupied by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the next several seasons?

 

Some have suggested the possibility of moving Guerrero Jr, who began his major league career at 3B, back to the hot corner. Personally that isn’t something I would do. His defence at 3B was sub par.  His UZR/150 rating as a 3B in 2019 was -14.6. He wasn’t much better as a 1B in 2020 at -13.8. He has worked hard to become a good defensive 1B and made great strides in 2021, earning a 2.5 UZR/150 rating. Might his improved conditioning allow him to play a better defensive 3B? Possibly, but I don’t want to keep moving him back and forth across the diamond.

 

For several years, the American League usually operates with one player who was the DH for most games. The Jays have used the DH on a rotating basis since they parted ways with Kendrys Morales, in order to give players a semi-day off. It certainly came in handy in 2021 with George Springer’s health situation. For a significant part of the season, Springer was healthy enough to DH, but not to play outfield.

 

For the opportunity to have two elite hitters such as Guerrero Jr and Freeman, it is worth returning to a full time DH. Guerrero who is roughly 10 years Freeman’s junior, could be the primary 1B with Freeman serving as the DH. They could switch roles every now and then to give Vlad a partial day off.

 

The Jays feature a predominately right hand hitting line up and they have made no secret of their desire to acquire a left hand hitter. Freeman is one of the best in the game. The 32 year old has a wRC + of 138 over his 12 year MLB career. He is a five time all star (most recently in 2021). He was the NL MVP in 2020. This past season he added World Series champion to his resume.

 

The addition of Freeman should more than make up for offence lost when Marcus Semien signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent. Adding him to a line up with Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would give the Jays an elite lineup.

 

Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah look like one of the better rotations in baseball, even before knowing who the 5th starter will be.

 

Freeman is rumoured to be seeking a 6 year, $180 million deal. The Jays projected 2022 payroll (including projected arbitration awards) currents sits at $158,807,143. With the CBT threshold at $210 million, how could the Jays meet Freeman’s salary demands and still have enough money left to address other needs?

 

One possibility is making use of deferred salary payments. The Jays could offer Freeman 6 years, $20 million per season, then $10 million a year for six years after that. If he isn’t all that keen on deferring some of his salary, they could extend the annual payments by 1-2 years, bringing the total contract to $190 million or $200 million.

 

Some might argue against mortgaging the future (to an extent) in favour of the present. The Blue Jays appear to be on the verge of something special. Freeman could be a difference maker, so now would be a good time to gamble.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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