Former Blue Jay Brandon Belt baffled as to why he hasn’t received any offers

Former Blue Jay Brandon Belt joins JD Bunkis to discuss how surprised he is by the lack of interest he’s had from teams this off-season, and why he decided against retirement to have one last shot at doing what he loves.

Former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter Brandon Belt wishes he had an answer for why he hasn’t signed with a team yet for 2024.

Belt was a guest on The JD Bunkis Podcast on Friday as the 35-year-old free agent discussed his struggles to latch on anywhere with the MLB season now officially underway.

“It’s kind of baffled me a little bit,” Belt said. “I honestly haven’t had hardly any calls at all that have gone past the point of teams saying, Hey, we’re interested, that they were just checking in. We haven’t even gotten down to talking about money with anybody or anything like that. I wish I had an answer for you. I just don’t.”

The Nacogdoches, Texas, native spent 12 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, winning the World Series in 2012 and 2014, before signing a one-year deal with the Blue Jays last season. He had 19 home runs and 43 RBIs and a .254/.369/.490 slash line during his short tenure with Toronto.

Belt explained he was initially on the fence about continuing his career but decided to continue playing and believed he still had something to offer.

“I was open to pretty much any team,” he said. “I definitely wanted to go to somebody that had a chance to win something, but that was about it. There was no, like, narrowing the teams down to who I absolutely wanted to play for, I just wanted to play baseball, so we’ll wait to see who comes forward and decide then. But it’s just that nobody’s come forward.

“It’s been kind of confusing because last year I was coming off a season where I was injured the entire season and it was pretty easy to sign last year. I had quite a few teams calling, quite a few teams wanted me to come play for them, and this year it’s just been basically zero. I don’t know how to explain it. There just hasn’t been a team that’s wanted me. I guess that’s just part of baseball sometimes.”

Belt wasn’t open to settling for a spring training invite and explained that talks with teams didn’t progress past the point of just checking in as they considered him a backup option if they couldn’t land their main target.

“They were typically going after some long-term guy and if they didn’t get him, then they were going to call back,” he said. “It just so happened that pretty much every one of them got their guy they were going for, and nobody called back.

“I don’t know how to take that. I didn’t take it as a negative, really. It’s just that I could understand why teams would want to go more with somebody who they’re going have a little bit more longer term, they can plan for the future a little bit. That was something that was fine with me, whatever, but I figured somebody would at least call back and then we would have some options, but it just didn’t happen.”

Belt had talks with Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, and there weren’t any irreconcilable differences stemming from the team’s disappointing exit from the post-season after a wild-card series sweep by the Minnesota Twins and a controversial decision to pull starting pitcher Jose Berrios early.

“I think that managers and teams make decisions, and you’ve got to live with those decisions,” Belt said. “I think the bigger problem was we didn’t put the ball in play enough to score runs, so I took that personally as far as that goes. … For me, I was looking internally and thinking what I could have done better, and I could have done a lot better.

“There’s stuff that the whole team could have done a lot better but I look at it as unfinished business. I was thinking about, ‘Well, if they end up calling, this is definitely a place I would want to be, try to take care of what we didn’t take care of last season.'”

Belt believes the season should have ended better for the Jays because he knew what they were capable of doing.

“That was definitely a tough loss,” he said. “It made it even tougher that I did love the team, I loved the guys and I loved playing with them. It was some of the most fun I’ve had playing baseball, last year. For it to end that way, it definitely stung a little bit.”

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