The Toronto Blue Jays have added another left-handed bat as they work to balance their righty heavy lineup. Toronto has a one-year contract in place with longtime San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The Athletic says the deal is worth $9.3 million. The Blue Jays are expected to announce the signing Tuesday.
Belt, 35 in April, has already passed his physical, which is notable because he had season-ending surgery on his right knee in September. It is the third surgery Belt has had on the knee since 2018.
Last season was the worst of Belt's 12-year career. He slashed .213/.326/.350 with eight home runs in 78 games, including only .223/.319/.383 against righties. That said, Belt hit a robust .274/.378/.597 with 29 homers in only 97 games in 2021. Various injuries have limited Belt to only 598 of 870 possible regular season games since 2017, a not nice 69 percent.
Belt did not rank among our top 50 free agents. Here's what our R.J. Anderson wrote about him in November:
Belt, who did not play after Aug. 20 because of knee woes, has conceded he may retire this winter if his ailment doesn't improve. (Count Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper among those who believe he's finished.) Even if Belt returns, it's unclear how much he has left to offer. He had the worst season of his career by OPS+, and he's a complete nonfactor against velocity. Indeed, Belt ranked in the second percentile in exit velocity against pitches 95 mph or greater, putting him in company with the likes of light-hitting (to be kind) infielders Nick Allen and Vidal Bruján. If this is the end -- and it may be, one way or another -- Belt deserves his flowers for a good career.
Given the knee trouble and the presence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base, Belt figures to step in as Toronto's DH against righties. The Blue Jays have added Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and now Belt -- all left-handed hitters -- to a lineup that almost entirely right-handed at times last season. They badly needed lineup balance this offseason and have created it.
The Blue Jays went 92-70 last season and were swept in the best-of-three Wild Card Series by the Seattle Mariners.