As first reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Toronto Blue Jays are bringing back outfielder Kevin Kiermaier on a one-year deal. According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the contract will pay Kiermaier $10.5 million, plus additional incentives.
The Gold Glove winner rejoins the Blue Jays after signing a similar deal last winter, valued at $9 million.
Kiermaier had a bounce-back campaign with the Blue Jays last season, posting a .265/.322/.419 slash line with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. He finished with a 104 OPS+, his highest mark since 2017, and added 21 doubles and six triples across 370 at-bats. Batting from the left side in a righty-heavy lineup, Kiermaier also added 14 stolen bases (thanks to 87th percentile sprint speed) and finished with a .741 OPS, the fifth-highest mark on the squad last season (min. 400 PA).
Defensively, Kiermaier patrolled center field in the newly renovated Rogers Centre outfield and posted an 18 DRS with three outfield assists, earning his fourth Gold Glove Award (his first since 2019). His 13 Outs Above Average put him in the 98th percentile among all players, while his arm strength, averaging 92.8 MPH, ranked in the 95th percentile.
The Blue Jays front office prioritized defense and fielding last winter, which led to the original Kiermaier signing. Bringing back the Indiana product fills the hole he would have left in the Jays outfield.
With this signing, Daulton Varsho, an excellent defender in his own right, will likely return to left field, although he could also platoon with Kiermaier in center to keep the veteran healthy throughout the season.
Bringing Kiermaier back may signal that the Jays are pivoting from top free agent Cody Bellinger, to whom they have been attached all offseason long. That said, the front office could still pursue the former Cubs outfielder on a long-term deal, and he could work with Varsho, Kiermaier, and George Springer all over the outfield and in the DH spot.
The re-signing of Kiermaier is Toronto’s first MLB deal of the offseason. The move brings a fan favourite back to the 2024 roster, ensuring some stability in what has been a rollercoaster offseason for the fanbase.