It certainly sounds great—the son of Canadian parents, a left-handed MVP bat, a World Series champion.
But, with connections to the Blue Jays and rumors swirling ahead of Wednesday's free agency 'deadline,' is there a fit for Freddie Freeman on the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays?
MLB Network's Jon Heyman, crediting former player Carlos Baerga, suggested the Blue Jays, alongside the Yankees and Dodgers, have reached out to Freeman with interest in prying him from the Atlanta Braves. I've been unable to confirm the Jays' reported contact with the first basemen, but finding a clear fit for him in Toronto takes some squinting.
There's no question the bat could slide seamlessly into the Blue Jays order, bringing the left-handed swing Toronto could use, one of the best eyes in baseball to diversify approach, and a 12-year track record as one of the game's best hitters. The 32-year-old has posted an OPS over .840 in every season dating back to 2013 and he's received MVP votes in seven of those nine years.
However, all indications from the Blue Jays, both public and private, have been that, like Bichette at shortstop, Guerrero is the team's long-term first basemen. All season, manager Charlie Montoyo and Guerrero’s Blue Jays teammates lauded his first-base play, suggesting him as a future Gold Glove candidate. During the year, Sportsnet’s Arash Madani reported the Guerrero approached the Blue Jays decision-makers and told them he no longer had an interest in returning to third base. In a Spanish Instagram post, Baerga suggested Guerrero "knows where third base is," but it's hard to see the Blue Jays shifting the 2021 MVP candidate back to a position where he posted -20 outs above average in 2020, even for Freeman.
What About DH?
The more natural fit for Freeman on the Blue Jays is in some kind of 1B/DH timeshare with Guerrero. Freeman was the seventh-best defensive first basemen in baseball last year, rocking +3 OAA at the position, ahead of Guerrero's -3. Splitting first base and designated hitter duties between the two star sluggers seems uncomplicated on paper, but it's something the Blue Jays have been reluctant to do in the past.
This Toronto management group hasn’t committed a full-time DH role to a player since Kendrys Morales in 2017. Toronto gave up on the deal before Morales’ third year and has left the DH spot open for ‘half days off' and beat-up players like George Springer in 2021. With more outfielders than starting spots and the desire to keep Bichette, Guerrero, and others in the lineup every day, an open DH has been a weapon for Montoyo in daily lineup creation.
Freeman's bat fits just about every trait the Blue Jays could desire in a free agent this offseason, but outbidding the Braves and Dodgers with spots still to fill in the infield and rotation may not add up.
This Toronto team puts a premium on flexibility—look no further than Gabriel Moreno's foray at third base. Adding Freeman's bat to the lineup is an unquestionable plus, but is committing the salary and DH position worth the sacrifice?