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It was the Blue Jays' pitch that grabbed Kevin Kiermaier's attention.

The 32-year-old felt out the market and recognized his niche was on a one-year deal. Several other teams were interested, but after speaking with Toronto's staff via Zoom, the Blue Jays immediately vaulted to the top of his list. 

The Jays made a great first impression and promised him an opportunity to play every day. 

"No other team was talking anywhere near the Blue Jays," said Kiermaier in his first media availability after signing a one-year, $9-million contract. "And I want to be an everyday player ... I'm gonna go out there and try to make [GM] Ross Atkins look like a genius."

The fit on the field is evident. Kiermaier bats left-handed; he's one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and his addition will allow George Springer to slide to right field. It's unclear if Toronto is ready to roll with Springer as its everyday right fielder, but Kiermaier said he's preparing to start in center field for the Blue Jays in 2023. 

"[The Blue Jays] want me manning center field out there, getting my rest when I need to, but there were no platoon talks or anything like that," Kiermaier said. "It seems like it's my job to lose, I guess you can say."

While the glove is Kiermaier's strongest tool, he can chip in at the dish, too. He boasts a career slash line of .248/.308/.407 and owns a .735 career OPS versus right-handed pitching. 

Off the field, Kiermaier should have no problem integrating. He's a respected veteran with a reputation for solid leadership. He understands his role is to get on base for teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette to drive him in. 

The Jays clubhouse is excited to have Kiermaier, too. Matt Chapman and Danny Jansen have already reached out to welcome the former Tampa Bay Ray to Toronto. 

There are still concerns about Kiermaier's health. He had surgery in August to address a torn labrum in his left hip, and, 22 weeks later, he's almost all the way back.

"I'd say I'm probably around 85, 90%. I'm running; I'm doing everything. And it's about just training my body to move at an optimum level. And I'm very close to that," Kiermaier said.

The last two years have been painful for Kiermaier, who explained his hip ailment forced him to swing with less effort from his lower body. As a consequence of the injury, some bad habits at the plate developed, limiting his comfort in the box. Kiermaier clearly wasn't himself a year ago, slashing .228/.281/.369 in just 63 games.

Those days are behind him, he said. 

"Now, even as I'm in the batting cages, I can tell a huge difference," Kiermaier added.

As spring training nears, Kiermaier will be helped by his proximity to the Blue Jays' development complex in Dunedin, Florida. The facility is less than an hour away from his current home, which Kiermaier said will ease his transition as he acclimates to playing for a new franchise. 

When Opening Day comes around, though, Kiermaier said he'll be ready to give it all for his new club. 

"I have all the confidence in the world that it's going to be a great fit for all parties," he said.