Behind a franchise record six-year, $150-million US contract, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly landed outfielder George Springer in free agency on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays confirmed the deal was for six years, pending a physical, when reached for comment by The Canadian Press. No further details were provided.
The deal for the 2017 World Series MVP and three-time all-star blows by the Blue Jays' previous high, the seven-year,-$126 million re-signing of Vernon Wells in 2006.
Springer, 31, debuted in 2014 with the Houston Astros — the only team he's ever known. Over 52 games in 2020, Springer hit 14 home runs while adding 32 runs batted in.
ESPN was first to confirm the two sides are in agreement on a deal, while adding Springer was heading to Toronto's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., for the physical. MLB Network was first to report the deal to be worth $150 million.
Springer was considered one of the premier players available after declining his qualifying offer from the Astros in October to become a free agent.
The New York Mets and Blue Jays were reportedly the two frontrunners for Springer, with his name being linked to both clubs for weeks.
The centre-fielder was named an all-star for the first time in 2017, and went on to become World Series MVP that season when Houston beat the L.A. Dodgers in seven games for a championship, now tainted by the Astros sign-stealing scandal that became public in 2019, and confirmed by MLB in January 2020.
He was also named an all-star in 2018 and '19, and took home the American League Silver Slugger Award in both seasons.
Springer brings Toronto plenty of playoff experience after reaching the AL Championship Series four seasons in a row, falling just one win shy in 2020 from reaching the World Series for the third time in four campaigns.
Springer, from New Britain, Conn., was selected by Houston 11th overall in 2011.
He has 174 home runs and 458 RBI, with a .270/.361/.491 slash line in his career.
The Blue Jays have an emerging young core and are able to add at least one major contract before their younger players like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. earn a lot more. Toronto has been linked to most of the top free agents, but now have the one they wanted most.
The upstart Blue Jays went 32-28 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, finishing third in the AL East behind Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees and qualifying for the expanded post-season. They were swept by the AL champion Rays in a three-game wild-card series.
Jays also land Yates
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are hoping they have acquired the 2019 version of Kirby Yates.
Yates, 33, reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays earlier Tuesday, pending a physical. The deal is reported to be worth $5.5 million US, with further incentives.
Toronto lost closer Ken Giles for the upcoming season after he had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30. Giles saved 23 games in 2019 and had expressed a desire to stay in Toronto even though he was slated to become a free agent this off-season.
The former San Diego closer, Yates led the major leagues in saves in 2019 before struggling to open last season and requiring surgery to remove bone chips in his right (throwing) elbow last August.
Six different pitchers, including Giles, recorded saves for Toronto last season, led by Anthony Bass (seven) and Rafael Dolis (five). Canadian-born Jordan Romano also flourished out of the bullpen with two saves and set a pair of club records for innings (8.2) and batters faced (29) without allowing a hit to start the season.
But Yates, who sported a 1.19 earned-run average, 41 saves and 101 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings two years ago with the Padres, possesses huge comeback potential.