The Toronto Blue Jays addressed one of the holes in their outfield on Saturday by agreeing to a deal with veteran Kevin Kiermaier, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi. The contract is reportedly a one-year pact worth $9 million.
Damn autocorrect. Blue Jays in agreement with Kevin Kiermaier pending physical, per industry source. https://t.co/XzRWiuhxUP
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) December 10, 2022
Kiermaier had spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays and made a name for himself as one of the best defensive outfielders in the majors. He has three Gold Gloves to his name and also won the American League Platinum Glove in 2015, awarded annually to the best overall defender in each league.
The 32-year-old has never offered much in the way of offence, as evidenced by his career .248/.308/.407 batting line. He hit .228 with a .649 OPS in 2022 but was limited to 63 games due to a hip injury. His speed on the bases should be an asset for manager John Schneider, though he isn't a traditional base-stealer.
Haven’t interacted with Kevin Kiermaier a ton, but I can say this: his contributions with the #BlueJays will go far beyond the field.
Tremendous clubhouse energy. A natural leader. He’ll bring plenty of that “accountability” chip the Jays want.
— Ethan Diamandas (@EthanDiamandas) December 10, 2022
Toronto's outfield depth had been depleted this offseason after trading Teoscar Hernandez and cutting ties with both Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer in November. Jackie Bradley Jr. also hit free agency, leaving George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as the only two established outfielders on the roster. Utility players Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio are also options if necessary.
Kiermaier might not be in line for an everyday job depending on how the remainder of the winter unfolds, but he provides the Blue Jays with a glove-first centre-fielder to give Springer more time in right field in an effort to keep the star healthier. He also bats left-handed, which complements Toronto's righty-heavy lineup.
With the Blue Jays firmly in their competitive window, another outfielder should still be on general manager Ross Atkins' shopping list in addition to at least one starting pitcher.
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