The Blue Jays had internal discussions about acquiring an impact shortstop this off-season, but it doesn’t sound like that would have affected Bo Bichette.
For every move the Blue Jays have made this off-season, and there have been quite a few, there has likely been five times as many rumours. That can be fairly common as any team looks to improve through free agency or off-season trades, but it was especially the case for the Blue Jays this year.
One of the many rumours from earlier this winter was that the Blue Jays checked in on Didi Gregorius as a free agent, who eventually signed a one-year, 14 million dollar pact to join the Philadelphia Phillies. Gregorius is certainly a good player and could have improved the Blue Jays’ lineup, but the rumour caused many of us to initially raise our collective eyebrows. After all, the Blue Jays finally have a franchise shortstop in place in Bo Bichette, so how was that going to work?
At the time that those reports came out, it was also widely circulated that Bichette was willing to move away from shortstop if it meant the Blue Jays could acquire an impact player. It was and is an admirable stance for the 21-year-old with just 46 MLB games under his belt, but it doesn’t sound like that’s how things would have went down, at least according to an article from Mark Polishuk of MLBtraderumors.com earlier today.
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The main subject of the article is actually that the Blue Jays checked in on Francisco Lindor as well, and that’s a whole other topic. However, it also mentions the story that the Blue Jays were seemingly serious about acquiring Gregorius if he were interested in joining them, but there was a pretty significant caveat. The heir to Derek Jeter‘s shortstop thrown with the Yankees would have to do something that Jeter never would, which was move to another position.
Whether or not that was a determining factor for Gregorius is unknown, but with the Phillies providing an opportunity to compete in 2020, my guess is it was a minor detail, especially since he received 14 million. Regardless, it sounds like the Blue Jays were upfront with both Gregorius, and also Bichette, and that they are committed to their young star at the position for the time being. From the MLBtraderumors article:
"Interestingly, Bichette wouldn’t have been changing positions had Gregorius been signed, as the Jays planned to use Gregorius as a second baseman. GM Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro gave Bichette a heads-up about the Gregorius pursuit, with Bichette saying, “It was presented to me as, ’We’re going after Didi, don’t worry, we’ve already told him you’re our shortstop.’ I’d imagine that’s probably a reason why he didn’t come here.”"
This should only come as a bit of a surprise because of Bichette’s reported willingness to change positions. I don’t think he’d volunteer to do so for just anybody, but in order to bring in someone like Gregorius, or in a pipe dream scenario like Francisco Lindor, it’s great to hear that the Florida native is willing to put the team ahead of himself.
Despite all of that, I’m glad to hear that the Blue Jays are committed to their young star at his natural position, that they’re communicating with him, and that they’re setting the foundation for a solid, long-term relationship. With a player with the kind of potential that Bichette has displayed, that’s exactly what you want to see.