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Blue Jays' Kiermaier prioritizing AL East, playing on grass in free agency

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Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier outlined an important priority for what he might be looking for in free agency in the offseason.

"Being on the turf my entire career, I enjoy being on the grass," Kiermaier said Thursday, according to Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post. "My body feels so much better being on grass."

Kiermaier spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays before joining the Blue Jays on a one-year contract this past offseason. Both the Rays and Blue Jays employ artificial turf at their respective stadiums.

Kiermaier has battled injuries at various points throughout his career and underwent hip surgery as a member of the Rays in 2022.

The 33-year-old acknowledged his comfort level playing in the AL East and highlighted Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park as two of his favorite ballparks to play at.

"I like the AL East. I've played in the division my entire career," Kiermaier said. I especially like here (Yankee Stadium) and Fenway (Park)."

Kiermaier is enjoying a strong bounce-back season in 2023. The three-time Gold Glove winner owns a .756 OPS with eight home runs, 35 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases across 121 games. Kiermaier continues to be one of the game's best defensive outfielders, ranking in the 98th percentile in outs above average while racking up 17 defensive runs saved.

"I feel like I've put myself in a good position (entering free agency), coming off hip surgery and being 33, but still feel like I'm holding my own out there in center," Kiermaier said.

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