It’s been eerily quiet on the MLB free-agent front with teams—perhaps more fiscally conscious than usual in the wake of revenue lost from COVID-19—feeling out the market. Former World Series MVP George Springer, who many expect to command upwards of $100 million when all is said and done, is still making up his mind, though according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, most MLB executives believe the Springer Sweepstakes will come down to two teams—the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.
Springer, a 6’3” outfielder who achieved All-Star status three times in his seven-year stint with the Astros, would be the splash signing Mets fans have been waiting for since the arrival of deep-pocketed owner Steve Cohen. The 31-year-old has ties to the area, growing up in Connecticut, where he also attended college, becoming the first UConn Husky to be drafted in the first round. Springer’s 19 career postseason homers are a club record and the fourth-most in MLB history, trailing only Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams.
Springer’s age and contact rate (.270 average with 785 strikeouts in 3,087 major league at-bats) are concerns, though his prolific power—his 39 career leadoff homers rank eighth all-time—and strong defensive presence (he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2016) both make him worthy of a nine-figure investment. He was also a fan favorite with Houston, helping the franchise to its first World Series (albeit a tainted one) in 2017.
While New York has emerged as the early frontrunner for Springer, don’t count out the up-and-coming Blue Jays, who also have money to burn. Toronto, fresh off its first playoff appearance in four years, has been linked to a number of high-profile free agents this offseason including Springer, J.T. Realmuto, Marcell Ozuna and even reigning American League batting champion DJ LeMahieu, who is known to be the Yankees’ top target.
Passan’s ESPN colleague, Buster Olney, had previously indicated he was ready to “bet the family farm” on Springer ending the winter in a Mets uniform, estimating a deal in the range of $125-150 million.