For some players, the burden of being awarded the largest contract in a franchise’s history can feel like too much to bear. MLBbro George Springer is not one of those players.
“Choosing Toronto was one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make in my career, “Springer wrote in his post for The Players Tribune. “My family and I felt good about it from the start – so after I got off the phone with Mark and Ross during my free agency, I didn’t need more convincing. I called my agent and told him, “This is the place.”
While we all acknowledge family plays a major role in free agent decisions, a quick look at this roster would make any ballplayer comfortable. Toronto’s features players like budding superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., just to name a few. And despite already possessing a roster packed with homegrown talent, Toronto has shown that they don’t mind spending to compete in AL East — arguably the best division in baseball.
Springer was the first domino to fall, signing his six-year, $151 million deal in the summer of 2021. Unfortunately, last season injuries limited Springer to just 78 games and under 300 plate appearances in a full season for the first time since his rookie year.
The @BlueJays trailed by 3 in the last inning…
George Springer changed that! pic.twitter.com/fD8UdV92jU
— MLB (@MLB) September 11, 2021
Although he was still effective when he did play, smashing 22 homers and posting an OPS of .907, the Blue Jays would eventually miss the playoffs by one game.
This offseason, after losing Marcus Semien, who set the single-season home run record for second baseman, Toronto decided to acquire more reinforcements, spending $240 million dollars on starting pitchers Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman, while also adding platinum glove winner Matt Chapman in a trade with the forever rebuilding Oakland Athletics.
Adding players of this caliber means more pressure on the 2017 World Series MVP to lead this team all the way.
Fortunately for Blue Jays fans, he has already embraced the role. “It’s been so cool watching these guys and knowing what they have in front of them – because I’ve been in their shoes before. And as the “old guy” (ha) I just get to sit back now and help them whenever I can.”
Springer’s task this season isn’t the first time we’ve seen an MLBbro in this scenario.
Let’s take a quick trip back to 2003, when Black Ace Dontrelle “D-Train” Willis exploded onto the scene with the young Florida Marlins. Willis, Josh Beckett and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera may receive the most recognition, but there was a veteran MLBbro who was also critical to the Marlins eventual World Series victory.
Derek Lee smacked 31 home runs that season while driving in 92 runs and winning a Golden Glove at first base. Lee’s numbers may have dipped in the postseason, but the heavy lifting he did during the regular season was crucial to the Marlins postseason berth. If Toronto is to reach the lofty expectations placed upon them, Springer will need to take a similar role with the Blue Jays in order to guide these young guys to glory.