The Blue Jays are reportedly in agreement on a three-year deal with star shortstop Bo Bichette to buy out his remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility. The contract will not affect the team’s window of club control by delaying his path to free agency. Bichette is represented by Vayner Sports.
Bichette debuted in the second half of the 2019 campaign and has spent the past three years as Toronto’s everyday shortstop. He has produced against big league pitching from day one, breaking into the majors with a .311/.358/.571 showing through 46 games as a rookie. Bichette hasn’t quite maintained that kind of pace over a full season but has posted well above-average offensive marks in every year of his career.
He reached arbitration for the first time this winter after surpassing the three-year service threshold during the summer. Bichette was slated to carry a career .297/.340/.491 line with 69 home runs, 239 runs batted in and 46 stolen bases through 393 MLB games into that process. The 2022 campaign was right in line with his career marks, as he hit .290/.333/.469 with 24 longballs, 93 RBI and 13 steals (albeit in 21 attempts). He has led the American League in hits in each of the past two seasons and finished in the top 15 in AL MVP balloting in both years.
Financial terms of the contract remain unreported. Bichette’s camp had filed for a $7.5MM salary last month, with the Jays countering at $5MM. The $2.5MM gap tied that between the Astros and outfielder Kyle Tucker — who are themselves discussing a potential multi-year deal — for the largest discrepancy between a team and player this offseason. That’s a moot point now, as the three-year pact overrides that and ensures the Jays and Bichette won’t go to an arbitration hearing at any time.
Bichette turns 25 next month and is still slated to hit free agency after the 2025 season — when he’ll be entering his age-28 campaign. It’s unclear whether the sides plan to engage in discussions on a more significant long-term pact that would alter the Jays’ window of club control this spring. Toronto brass has predictably spoken of a desire to explore such arrangements with their top young players (generally assumed to be Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alek Manoah) but isn’t facing pressing urgency to do so. Guerrero is also arbitration-eligible through 2025, while Manoah won’t reach arbitration until next offseason as a likely Super Two qualifier and isn’t going to hit free agency until after the 2027 campaign.
The Jays have now completed their arbitration work for the offseason. Bichette was the only of their 12 eligible players who didn’t agree to a deal prior to last month’s deadline for exchanging figures.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet first reported the Jays and Bichette had agreed to a multi-year deal to avoid arbitration and that a three-year pact had been under consideration. Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirmed the sides were in agreement on a three-year deal.