After trading fan-favorite Teoscar Hernández for reliever Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko, it’s evident that the Jays aren’t done.
So of course, rumors have been flying left and right about who could replace the Hernández-sized hole in the outfield. Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins noted that George Springer would be open to moving to right field. This means that the Jays may be looking at signing (or trading) for a center fielder who bats left-handed. Let’s run through a few names linked to the Blue Jays.
Per Andy Martino of SportsNet New York, 29-year-old center fielder Brandon Nimmo has been meeting teams face-to-face…
“According to a league source, Nimmo is already meeting personally with teams. Several teams have expressed a willingness to move their current center fielder to a corner position to accommodate him.” #LGM
— GENY Mets Report (@genymets) November 17, 2022
The Blue Jays have been linked to Nimmo, and they come to mind as one of the teams who have potentially told him that they would be willing to shift their center fielder, George Springer in this instance, over to a corner outfield spot to accommodate him .
In fact, this would be my preferred signing. The former New York Met center fielder slashed .274/.367/.433 with 16 homers in 673 plate appearances in 2022. Unlike Hernández, Nimmo only struck out 17.2% of the time, while walking 10.5% of the time. His 5.4 fWAR would rank first for Blue Jays batters in 2022.
Another key aspect of center field is defense, as it is one of the most demanding positions on the field. In 2022, Nimmo had a -3 Defensive Runs Saved, while owning a six Outs Above Average rating. For his career, his DRS is -2, while his OAA is 15.
The difference between the two stats comes from his arm, as DRS takes it into account, while OAA does not. He has great range and speed, but the arm is slightly weak for the position. With that said, he is a defensive upgrade over Springer (and Hernández), and it would allow Springer to move into right field.
The Mets extended Nimmo a qualifying offer, meaning that the Jays would lose their second round pick, as well as $500,000 in international free agent bonus pool money. While that sucks for me (less to write about), the loss of the pick should not be a factor in the Jays decision to sign Nimmo.
This rumor comes from Jon Morosi, so take this with a grain of salt, although he was correct about Toronto and Seattle linking up for a trade.
The #BlueJays are one team to watch on Cody Bellinger if he is non-tendered; they are known to have interest in FA Brandon Nimmo.
The Jays want to add a left-handed bat in the outfield, and Rogers Center is a great place to revive one’s offensive numbers. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 17, 2022
If there’s any player in the league that I root for to return to form, it’s 27-year-old Cody Bellinger. In 2019, Bellinger had a .305/.406/.629 slashing line with 47 homers in 660 plate appearances. He had a 14.4 BB% and 16.4 K%, winning the National League MVP with an fWAR of 7.7.
Fast forward to 2022, and Bellinger slashed .210/.265/.389 with 19 homers, a 6.9 BB%, and 27.3 K% in 550 plate appearances. While he still had a 1.7 fWAR, the past three seasons have been rough for the former MVP winner, mostly caused by injuries.
Per MLB trade rumors, Cody Bellinger is projected to make $18.1 million in arbitration this season, and could very well be a non-tender from the Dodgers. We’ll find out tomorrow if the Dodgers are cutting him loose.
Signing Bellinger would be a bit of a reclamation project, so I don’t think he’d be signed as a starter. However, I’d have time for him as an improved fourth outfielder depending on the payroll hit.
We know for a fact that the Jays will be looking to acquire another outfielder. Who it is has yet to be determined, but my best guess and speculation would be Brandon Nimmo. There’s still the possibility that the Jays allow Springer to play in the center, while signing Michael Conforto or Michael Brantly in the outfield.
Either way, it’ll be an exciting end to November!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D