TORONTO — All-Star outfielder George Springer finalized his six-year, $150 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the most prominent free agent to reach an agreement this offseason.
Springer, who turned 31 in September, received the largest deal in team history, topping outfielder Vernon Wells’ $126 million, seven-year contract in 2006.
Springer gets a $10 million signing bonus payable within 30 days and salaries of $22 million this year, $28 million in 2022 and $22.5 million in each of the final four seasons.
He gets a limited no-trade provision, allowing him to designate eight teams annually he cannot be dealt to without his consent. Springer also gets a hotel suite on road trips.
He would receive $150,000 for winning an MVP award, $125,000 for finishing second, $100,000 for third, $75,000 for fourth and $50,000 for fifth. He would get $50,000 each time he makes an All-Star team, is World Series MVP, earns a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger. He would get $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.
“When you sign a guy like George Springer, it’s like, `Boom. OK, perfect. This is awesome.”‘ new Blue Jays pitcher Kirby Yates said. “It’s just exciting to be a part of (a) team that’s trying to push really hard to go to the next level.”
A three-time All-Star, Springer had spent his entire seven-season career with Houston and was the World Series MVP when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games for their first title in 2017.
Springer hit .265 with 14 homers and 32 RBIs during the shortened 2020 season, earning a prorated $7,777,778 from a $21 million salary.
He has a .270 career average with 174 home runs and 458 RBIs, including career bests of .292 with 39 homers and 96 RBIs in 2019.
Springer joins an emerging Blue Jays’ core that includes Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Toronto went 32-28 last season and finished third in the AL East behind Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays reached the postseason and was swept 2-0 by the eventual AL champion Rays in the first round.
Because Springer turned down an $18.9 million qualifying offer, Houston will receive an extra pick in next July’s amateur draft after the fourth round and Toronto will lose its second-highest draft pick and also forfeit $500,000 of international signing bonus pool space for the next signing period.
Toronto played home games in Buffalo, New York, after the Canadian government didn’t allow the team to play in Canada because of restrictions on travel imposed to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. It remains unclear whether the Blue Jays will be allowed to return home for 2021 season.
Toronto also reached deals in the past week with Yates ($5.5 million) and fellow right-hander Tyler Chatwood ($3 million). Yates, who turns 34 on March 25, can earn $4.5 million in performance bonuses based on relief appearances.
Yates is coming off surgery in August to remove bone chips from his right elbow. He led the major leagues in saves in 2019 with 41 for San Diego and earned a place on the National League All-Star team. Slowed by elbow soreness, he had two saves in six games with a 12.46 ERA during last year’s pandemic-shortened season.
“I think I need to first prove I’m healthy and two, I think I need to prove that I’m still myself and that I’m capable of doing it,” Yates said Friday. “I think if I can go out there and do those two things, I think I have a good opportunity of being able to get that ninth inning.”
A closer-by-committee approach was used by the Blue Jays last season. Ken Giles had a strong 2019 but missed most of last year due to injury, leaving Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano as the main options.
Giles, now a free agent, is not expected to return to the big leagues until 2022 due to Tommy John surgery.
Yates added he has thrown bullpen sessions about once a week.
“I feel like I’m on that right track to go out there and compete like the way I can,” he said.