The Blue Jays and free agent center fielder Kevin Kiermaier have agreed to a contract, reports Sportsnet. Kiermaier had his 2023 option declined by the Rays back in November, sending him to free agency. Instead, the defensive wiz kid will make $9 million on the one-year deal, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Kiermaier, 32, hit .228/.281/.369 (89 OPS+) with eight doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI, 28 runs, six steals and 1.1 WAR in 63 games last season. A career .248 hitter with a 98 OPS+, any offensive contribution will be viewed as a big plus. Kiermaier has been signed for his glove. He's still a superior defensive center fielder, even if he's lost a step from back in 2015-17 when he was the gold standard out there.
Staying on the field has been a problem for Kiermaier, too. He played in 151 games in 2015, but otherwise hasn't topped 129. Even if we leave out the shortened 2020 season, Kiermaier's games played per season since 2015 are 105, 98, 88, 129, 122 and 63.
Earlier this offseason, the Blue Jays traded incumbent right fielder Teoscar Hernández to the Mariners and are looking to move George Springer off center. As such, their outfield right now looks like Lourdes Gurriel in left, Kiermaier in center and Springer in right. Whit Merrifield could also figure and Springer will surely see some time in center when Kiermaier is inevitably out with an injury.