Kiermaier: 100-win season 'very attainable' for Blue Jays
Kevin Kiermaier hasn't played a regular-season game in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform, but he sees big things in store for his new team in 2023.
Ahead of his first Opening Day with Toronto, Kiermaier said the Blue Jays have the potential to not only win the AL East but dominate with a 100-win season.
"Knowing this group and what guys are about, (100 wins) is very attainable," the 32-year-old told Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun. "If we stay healthy - and with the balanced schedule - I like our chances. I'm going to do everything in my power to motivate guys as best I can.
"If we can keep each other in check and say look, 'We're playing for October,' and the more we win, the more we will buy into each other. If we get that from one through 26 on the roster and are adamant about that, it will be amazing what this group can do."
A 100-win campaign would be new territory for the Blue Jays, whose franchise-best mark of 99 wins has stood untouched since 1985. The team has won 90 games just three times in the past 30 years, including during each of the last two seasons.
Toronto's 92-win 2022 campaign ended in devastating fashion, as the team blew a seven-run lead in Game 2 of the wild-card round to be swept by the Seattle Mariners.
While core players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, and Alek Manoah remain following that disappointment, the front office has rejigged the roster. Kiermaier, a longtime divisional foe during his years with the Tampa Bay Rays, was one of several veterans to join Toronto in free agency, alongside Chris Bassitt and Brandon Belt. The team also traded for outfielder Daulton Varsho and reliever Erik Swanson.
The Blue Jays will likely spend the summer battling the New York Yankees for divisional supremacy. It was the Yankees who served notice early last year, bursting out of the gate in April en route to 99 wins and a runaway divisional crown. Kiermaier wants the Blue Jays to be the team that sends an early message this season by taking immediate control of the AL East.
"I'd love to set the tone and go out there and try to win the division," Kiermaier said. "We're trying to take the next step. Everyone knows (winning the division) is important. That's the goal.
"We have to let our play do the talking. These guys have always had high expectations, but let's do something different this year and really scare teams. We're playing for October and we want the division."
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