TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays shored up their outfield and added a needed left-handed bat by agreeing to terms with Kevin Kiermaier on a US$9-million, one-year contract.
Kiermaier, who hit .228 with seven homers in 63 games last season, made his big-league debut with Tampa Bay in 2013. He became a free agent when the Rays declined his $13-million option for 2023.
“Kevin is a terrific addition to our already strong roster,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Thursday in a release. “As we focus on improving our team heading into this off-season, Kevin checked a lot of those boxes.
“His handedness, defence, elite baserunning, and clubhouse presence make him a great fit for our team and we are excited about his contributions next season.”
The 32-year-old native of Fort Wayne, Ind., was limited at times last season due to a labrum issue. He underwent season-ending left hip surgery last August.
Kiermaier has earned three Gold Glove awards and posted a .988 fielding percentage over his career. The six-foot-one 210-pounder also gives the Blue Jays a left-handed option in their righty-heavy batting order.
His addition provides some outfield stability after the departure of slugger Teoscar Hernandez, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners a month ago. The Blue Jays also declined to tender outfielders Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer.
Kiermaier, who was scheduled to hold a media availability later Thursday, has spent his entire career with Tampa Bay. He has 82 homers, 316 RBIs and 112 stolen bases over 914 games.
The Blue Jays have been busier of late after a quiet start to the off-season. Toronto agreed to a $63-million, three-year deal on Monday with right-hander Chris Bassitt, reports said.
Bassitt, who was 15-9 with a 3.42 earned-run average last season with the New York Mets, joins a rotation anchored by Cy Young Award finalist Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman.
The Blue Jays have reached the playoffs in two of the last three years. Toronto was swept in the wild-card round on both occasions.
Toronto’s last post-season series win came in 2016 when the Blue Jays reached the American League Championship Series for the second straight year.
The Blue Jays last won the World Series in 1993.