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Baseball Daily Dose

Sunday in the Park With George (Springer)

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: January 22, 2021, 3:19 pm ET

For a time, it seemed as though the Blue Jays were destined to always be a bridesmaid, never a bride, this offseason.

The team was rumored to be in on a number of players only to see those players go elsewhere. Ha-seong Kim. Liam Hendriks. DJ LeMahieu. In each case, the Jays were the runner-up, but wish in one hand and ... you get the idea.

The club changed its fate Wednesday by reeling in one of the biggest fish on the free agent market this winter, agreeing to a six-year, $150 million deal that sets the new franchise record for richest contract in its history. The deal is pending a physical and had not officially been announced by the club as of late Thursday.

It's now a full house in Toronto, but the marriage -- the Jays finally being a bride for once -- is a beautiful one for fantasy players. Springer should immediately be inserted at the top of the Jays' lineup and will be setting the table for a murderer's row of sluggers in Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and the list doesn't stop there. Of course, the 31-year-old will be plating plenty of runs himself after he socked 14 homers in the shortened 2020 season and hit 39 in 122 games the season prior.

The whole package puts him in rarified air, a legitimate contender to lead the league in runs with 30-plus homers and perhaps even triple-digit RBI as well. Already being taken in the early rounds of drafts, Springer will likely be pushed into the top three rounds of most drafts in the wake of the signing, so if you want him, plan accordingly.

If there's a loser it's likely one of Rowdy Tellez or Alejandro Kirk, though the Jays may not be done reshaping their roster, either. With Springer in center field, Randal Grichuk and Gurriel in the corners and Hernandez at DH, Tellez and Kirk suddenly become a tandem where they once could have coexisted in a Jays lineup. Kirk can also catch, but Danny Jansen is still presumed to have the starting catcher job; Tellez is a first baseman by trade and may occupy the position with Vladito sliding back to his native third base, but there will likely be days where Guerrero Jr. gets penciled in at first base as well.

However they fill out the lineup card on a given day, it's clear that the embarrassment of riches has the potential to leave fantasy players feeling cold. Unfortunately, the upside is so hot that it'll be hard to stay away entirely.

Yates Fortifies Jays' Pen

Not done, the Jays also addressed the back end of their bullpen Wednesday.

The team signed former Padres relief ace Kirby Yates to a one-year, $5.5 million contract that includes another $4.5 million in performance incentives based on games pitched. If he pitches in 35 games he'll earn $8.5 million, and if Yates makes 70 appearances -- a good sign that things are going very well for the right-hander in Toronto -- he'll earn a full $10 million in 2021.

The Jays will gladly pay every penny if the Yates they get is the vintage edition. The 33-year-old was limited to just six appearances last season before succumbing to arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow -- the reason why he was so cheap and had to sign an incentive-laden, one-year deal -- but in 2018 and 2019 Yates posted an incredible 1.67 ERA, 0.906 WHIP and 191/30 K/BB ratio in 123 2/3 innings of work for the San Diego club.

Health will be the only thing standing between Yates and the closer job, and the Jays' guarantee -- in this free agent climate, even a $4.5 million base salary shows a degree of confidence in his arm -- suggests they think he'll be ready for the job. Given that confidence and Yates' track record of success, fantasy players who want to secure one of the better closer gigs in the land will have to push Yates into their top-10 relievers if they want to lock him down.

Good news for some is bad for others, as those who have already invested or who hoped to invest in Jordan Romano futures were surely nonplussed by Wednesday's news. Romano has talent, as evidenced by his 1.23 ERA and 36.8 percent strikeout percentage in 2020, and given a shot at the job he could have been a high-upside play for those trying to navigate the rough waters of drafting closers in 2021. Those drafting Yates would do well to handcuff him to Romano in hopes of nailing down the Blue Jays closer situation one way or the other.

Astros Keep Brantley In the States

In what's becoming a bit of a theme, an American underdog succeeded in keeping the Canadian club from making it a hat trick Wednesday.

In the wake of the Springer signing it was reported that the Jays were also nearing a deal with free agent outfielder and Springer's former teammate Michael Brantley, but at the last minute the Astros swooped in and wooed the 33-year-old back to Houston with a reported two-year, $32 million contract. The deal was not finalized as of Thursday.

Keeping Brantley was big for the Astros after they've already lost Springer to the Jays and Josh Reddick to free agency; without Brantley, seldom-used Chas McCormick was slated for a starting outfield spot in Minute Maid Park. Instead, the left-handed hitting Brantley will continue to patrol left field and hit in the heart of the Astros' still-potent order.

With Springer gone, Jose Altuve will likely move up to the leadoff spot with on-base maven Alex Bregman behind him. Brantley is anticipated to bat third with Carlos Correa hitting cleanup, followed by Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and others.

Brantley is on the back nine of his career, as mentioned, but he remains a very talented hitter who's been able to stay on the field in recent years after injuries marked the early part of his career. Last season Brantley hit .300/.364/.476 with five homers and two steals, and for his career he's a .297/.354/.440 hitter.

Expect more of the same from the veteran outfielder in 2021.

Quick Hits: Sources tell MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that it's believed that the two teams that have the best chance to land free agent right-hander Trevor Bauer are the Mets and Angels. Feinsand also mentions that the Dodgers are monitoring his market, as was reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan on Wednesday ... According to FanSided's Robert Murray, the Braves are "circling" on free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto ... Also per Murray, the Angels "have emerged as a possibility" for free agent reliever Brad Hand. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Wednesday that the Blue Jays "have had an offer out" to Hand, and the 30-year-old right-hander has also been tied in recent weeks to the Dodgers, Astros, White Sox, and Mets ... Craig Mish of SportsGrid reports that the Red Sox are still open to moving outfielder Andrew Benintendi ... Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that Justin Turner remains "the top target" for the Dodgers as they seek a right-handed-hitting infielder ... Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters on Tuesday that Mitch Haniger (back, core) is a "full go" for spring training. Haniger didn't play in 2020 and missed most of 2019 due to a wide variety of injuries, but Dipoto said that the outfielder looks "terrific" and is going to be ready for the Cactus League ... Chris Cotillo of MassLive reports that the Red Sox have had recent talks with Enrique Hernandez. Cotillo reports that things could be "heating up" between the two parties, but that it's unknown if anything is close ... Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Reds are among the "many teams" showing interest in free agent shortstop Andrelton Simmons ... According to Feinsand and Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com, the Twins have expressed interest in a reunion with free agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez ... Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that Anibal Sanchez and Julio Teheran were both throwing "free and easy" during their double showcase on Tuesday in Miami ... Passan reports that the Twins and J.A. Happ are in agreement on a one-year, $8 million contract ... According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Angels are signing free agent left-hander Jose Quintana to a similar one-year, $8 million contract ... According to Rosenthal and Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, the Astros have signed free agent catcher Jason Castro ... Blue Jays signed RHP Tyler Chatwood to a one-year, $3 million contract. He'll likely pitch in a multi-inning role that won't provide much fantasy relevance this coming season ... Royals signed RHP Wade Davis to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The 35-year-old will likely pitch in middle relief if he makes the Royals' roster out of camp ... Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Blue Jays are most likely to play their home games in Dunedin, Florida at the beginning of the season if they haven't been cleared to play in Toronto by then.