Blue Jays’ extension with Bo Bichette lays groundwork for future mega-deal
Bichette and the Blue Jays agreed on an extension that benefits both player and team. Here's what it could mean for future negotiations.
Bo Bichette has signed an extension with the Toronto Blue Jays. But before you get ahead of yourselves, let me shut you down — no, it’s not the mega-extension fans have been hoping for.
As first reported by Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Jays and Bichette agreed to a three-year pact that’ll buy out the shortstop’s remaining years of arbitration. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the deal is worth $33.6 million but could rise to as much as $40.65 million.
The extension bypasses the arbitration process between player and club but does not impact Bichette’s free agency. He’ll still hit the open market at the end of 2025.
On the surface, this seems like a minor development — Bichette gets some steady cash and both parties dodge the headache of using an arbitrator for the next few seasons. There are, however, a few more takeaways from this quiet three-year deal.
Blue Jays make Bichette happy
Bichette has always known his worth, so it’s no surprise he filed his offseason arbitration value at $7.5 million. The Jays filed lower (which clubs always do) at $5 million, with the $2.5-million gap tied for the biggest discrepancy in MLB.
To understand Bichette, though, you’ve got to rewind a touch further. Last spring, Bichette, a pre-arbitration player, was eligible for a slight raise for 2022 which would’ve increased his salary from $706,200 to $723,550. He turned down the $23,550 pay bump.
The rejection was symbolic — a proverbial middle finger to the system. Bichette told Sportsnet he disagreed with how the pre-arbitration process values players. The rejection of that baked-in raise made clear Bichette’s own opinions about the rigidity of arbitration and emphasized that the 24-year-old was ready to fight for what he believes he deserves.
That’s why it’s a big deal the two parties came to an agreement at all. Bichette has been more headstrong than the average player during negotiations — as he should, it’s his right — putting the Blue Jays in a potentially difficult spot. This reported three-year extension gives Bichette an early payday and proves the two sides can find some common ground, an important element to remember as talks on a super-extension ramp up.
Blue Jays get security and avoid further headaches
Like I said before, there’s the intangible element of avoiding the arbitration dance for the next several offseasons. Bichette hates the way teams value players? Good, skip all that value-estimation minutiae and make your star happy in a low-risk practice negotiation ahead of the real deal.
From a front-office perspective, the Jays make sure they don’t get absolutely slaughtered in arbitration should Bichette blossom into a top-three, MVP-calibre player.
By some other sports’ standards, $33.6 million over three years is larceny, especially for a shortstop (the most important position on the diamond) with ungodly bat-to-ball abilities entering his prime. Unfortunately, that’s how the market works. The system is fractured; service time is king, and players must work very hard for their undisputed shot at an open-market payday.
What could Bichette’s mega-deal look like?
This three-year extension is worthy of a few pats on the back and maybe a drink or two to acknowledge the occasion, but it’s hardly the bottle-popping celebration that’ll come when Bichette hits the jackpot. I see Bichette in line for a contract worth close to $300 million, but let’s check the precedent to sharpen that estimation.
We need to find a baseline for Bichette’s production. In 2022, he accrued 4.5 wins above replacement (fWAR), so let’s repeat that for the next three seasons. Using our generous calculation, he’ll have accrued 25.3 WAR through parts of seven MLB seasons and hit free agency following the 2025 season.
fWAR Before Free Agency
Eventual Contract (AAV)
SS Bo Bichette
25.3* (7 seasons)
SS Corey Seager
21.7 (7 seasons)
10 years, $325 million ($32.5 M)
SS Trea Turner
31.6 (8 seasons)
11 years, $300 million ($27.3 M)
16.2 (7 seasons)
7 years, $177 million ($25.3 M)
SS Trevor Story
21.3 (6 seasons)
6 years, $140 million ($23.3 M)
SS Javier Báez
21.8 (8 seasons)
6 years, $140 million ($23.3 M)
Xander Bogaerts also got paid this winter, though his situation is tricky since he initially signed a nine-year, $180-million contract with the Boston Red Sox but opted out after six seasons. After that, he earned a wicked payday with the San Diego Padres, worth $280 million over 11 years.
On WAR alone, you can see why Bichette belongs on this list. Additionally, when he hits free agency after the 2025 season, Bichette will be younger than any of the shortstops on that list were when they got paid. As such, I’d expect a contractual commitment around the 10-year mark.
There are uncertainties, too, though. The payday will depend on whether clubs see Bichette as a long-term shortstop or a future second baseman. His hitting profile also raises questions, as his hack-and-slash approach at the dish relies heavily on bat speed, which wanes as players age.
No matter, the Blue Jays will entertain long-term contract discussions with Bichette down the road. For now, both player and club were wise to come to an agreement to avoid arbitration first.
More from Yahoo Sports