Evaluating 5 biggest contracts in Blue Jays history after Springer's deal

The Toronto Blue Jays sent shock waves through the baseball world Tuesday when they reportedly agreed to a six-year, $150-million contract with 2017 World Series MVP George Springer.

The pact is the most lucrative the organization has ever handed out in terms of guaranteed money. With that in mind, let’s examine the five highest-valued contracts in the team’s history.

5. Jose Bautista

5 years, $64M (2011)

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Year Age HR RBI OPS WAR
2011 30 43 103 1.056 8.1
2012 31 27 65 .886 3.1
2013 32 28 73 .856 4.1
2014 33 35 103 .928 6.2
2015 34 40 114 .913 5.2

This signing was obviously a home run for the Blue Jays (no pun intended).

Extending Bautista following an out-of-nowhere 54-homer campaign in 2010 was a gamble for Toronto. The Dominican slugger ended up making the All-Star team in every campaign of his five-year deal, and only eight major-league players accrued a higher fWAR than him during that period.

4. Hyun-Jin Ryu

4 years, $80M (2019)

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Year Age ERA WHIP K/9 WAR
2019 33 2.69 1.14 9.7 1.9

The jury is still out on Ryu in Toronto. However, his first season with the Blue Jays was outstanding, though he made just 12 starts due to the pandemic.

The 33-year-old Korean finished as a Cy Young finalist for a second consecutive campaign while receiving down-ballot MVP votes again. The left-hander has always been injury-prone, so we could view this contract differently when he’s pitching in his mid-30s.

3. Russell Martin

5 years, $82M (2014)

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*No longer with the Blue Jays

Year Age HR RBI OPS WAR
2015 32 23 77 .787 4.5
2016 33 20 74 .733 3.6
2017 34 13 35 .731 2.0
2018 35 10 25 .663 1.2
2019* 36 6 20 .667 1.2

At the time of this signing, Martin’s contract represented the most guaranteed money the Blue Jays had ever given to a free agent. The Canadian catcher had established a reputation for playing on postseason contenders, and the move immediately paid dividends, with the Jays making back-to-back trips to the ALCS during his first two years in Toronto.

Martin’s production and durability dropped off substantially over his last two campaigns, and he was eventually traded to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers.

2. Vernon Wells

7 years, $126M (2006)

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*No longer with the Blue Jays

Year Age HR RBI OPS WAR
2007 28 16 80 .706 1.8
2008 29 20 78 .840 1.0
2009 30 15 66 .711 -0.1
2010 31 31 88 .847 3.7
2011* 32 25 66 .660 0.4
2012* 33 11 29 .682 0.2
2013* 34 11 50 .631 -0.3

Prior to Springer’s deal, Wells’ extension was the franchise’s high mark (or low mark, depending on how you look at it). The then 27-year-old was among MLB’s best outfielders and coming off his second All-Star nod when general manager J.P. Ricciardi inked him to what became one of the worst contracts in baseball.

Wells amassed a 6.7 fWAR over the seven-year deal after posting a 5.8 fWAR in 2006 alone. GM Alex Anthopoulos eventually dealt the homegrown product to the Los Angeles Angels when many thought Wells’ contract was untradeable.

1. George Springer

6 years, $150M (2021)

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Year Age HR RBI OPS WAR
2021* 31 34 85 .868 4.5

*Steamer projection according to FanGraphs

Will Springer continue to be one of the top outfielders in the majors into his 30s? Can he lead the Blue Jays to a championship? How will this deal look in four years? All those questions can’t be answered right now.

However, we do know Toronto is reportedly getting an elite player in his prime who puts up huge playoff numbers, and only 13 major leaguers have accrued a higher regular-season fWAR than Springer since 2016. The 30-year-old also recorded 19 homers and 38 RBIs over 63 career playoff games since 2015, helping the Astros reach two World Series and win the title in 2017. The bottom line: The Blue Jays are a much better team in the immediate future after adding the three-time All-Star.