BLUE JAYS SIGN BRANDON BELT
2023-01-11 · 2 min read · MLB/Baseball
Icon Sportswise | Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
In what may end up being the penultimate big-league signing for the Blue Jays this offseason, the team announced they have agreed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal with longtime San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt.
Belt, now 34, played all twelve Major League seasons with the Giants since he debuted in 2011, and held the starting job at 1B for eleven of them. He’s a two-time World Series Champion (2012, 2014), one-time All-Star (2016), and finished sixteenth in MVP voting during the shortened 2020 season. Originally winning the job away from now-disgraced veteran Aubrey Huff in 2012, Belt had an incredibly successful run with the Giants - in just over 1300 games, he smacked 175 homers to accompany 584 RBIs while slashing .261/.356/.458. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is now the only remaining player on the Giants’ roster to be a part of their 2014 World Series Championship.
An injury-plagued 2022 forced him to only see action in 78 games, his third-lowest since his debut season (excluding 2020). He struggled with the bat, hitting just .213 over 298 PAs to go along with 8 bombs (third-lowest of his career) and 23 RBIs (second-lowest of his career), though the 2021 iteration of Brandon Belt was very offensively productive. In just 97 games, Belt smashed 29 HRs - a career high - and hit .274.
All in all, Belt is very projectable. Fully recovered from knee surgery, a .250’s-.260’s average seems easily attainable for the lefty especially in a relatively hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Assuming at least half of his time will be spent DH’ing, it should limit concerns about recurring knee problems and allow for rest when needed. As of now, Belt’s on track to start 3-4 times a week while providing the quality left-handed bat off the bench that Toronto’s been lacking in years previous. A rotation of Vlad, Belt, and Kirk - along with Springer, when needed - seems like the likely group circulating in-and-out of the DH role.
With Belt being official, the club announced that Julian Merryweather has been designated for assignment.
In more minor news, Toronto also announced that they have acquired righty Zach Thompson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for minor leaguer Chavez Young. Thompson, who was DFA’d by the Pirates last week, struggled this past season but put up quality numbers with Miami in the year prior. In 2021, he posted a 3.24 ERA over 75 innings with the fish over 26 games, 14 of which were starts. He has options, and will provide decent starting depth for Toronto. Barring injury, Thompson will begin the year with AAA Buffalo.
Following the addition of Thompson, Toronto has designated recently-claimed reliever Junior Fernandez for assignment.
By: Gus Cousins