Blue Jays rumors: Jays focus on George Springer after missing on DJ LeMahieu

The latest Blue Jays rumors have the front office narrowing its focus on October slugger George Springer to fill its need in center field.

The Toronto Blue Jays swung and missed on All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who on Friday opted to re-sign with the New York Yankees. Now the Blue Jays rumors center on another player who could fill a whole in the middle of the diamond, former Houston Astros center fielder George Springer.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Friday afternoon that, while the Blue Jays have looked at catcher J.T. Realmuto, they are taking a more focused view of Springer.

However, per MLB.com, Heyman was on WFAN Sports Radio Thursday and indicated the New York Mets remain in the mix for Springer.

Springer is one of the top sluggers in postseason history, with his 19 career October home runs tied with Los Angeles Angels veteran Albert Pujols for the most among active players. Springer was the MVP of the 2017 World Series when he clubbed five homers in the Astros’ seven-game victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers (however much in question that championship may be).

The 31-year-old played parts of seven seasons with the Astros and was a two-time All-Star, hitting a career-high 39 home runs in 2019 despite being limited to just 122 games due to injuries.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Springer hit .265/.359/.540 in 51 games, belting 14 homers with 32 RBI in 222 plate appearances to go with 24 walks and 38 strikeouts. The Astros slumped to 29-31 in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that led to the suspensions and subsequent firings of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch last January.

But Houston then made an unexpected run to the ALCS, pushing the Tampa Bay Rays to seven games after falling behind 3-0 in the series, which was played over seven days at San Diego’s Petco Park.

Springer had two home runs in the Astros’ four-game victory over the Oakland A’s in the ALDS and clubbed two more against the Rays.

Toronto had veteran Randal Grichuk manning center field last season after two seasons patrolling right field. Grichuk produced a slash line of .273/.312/.481 in 231 plate appearances with 12 homers, 35 RBI while fanning 49 times against 13 walks. The Blue Jays reached the postseason in 2020, but were swept in two games by Tampa Bay in the Wild Card Series.

So far this offseason, the Jays did retain free-agent left-hander Robbie Ray, while non-tendering last year’s regular third baseman, Travis Shaw. Two starting pitchers from last season, Taijuan Walker and Matt Shoemaker, remain on the free agent market, as does utility infielder Joe Panik.