Blue Jays: What to make of Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s contract comment

Sep 9, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

Earlier this week Vladimir Guerrero Jr. answered a question about whether the Blue Jays have made a long-term offer, and understandably it made some headlines.

First of all, the only real baseball news we’ve had to talk about over the last few weeks has been the frustratingly slow development with the CBA talks. Naturally, if a player like Vlad Jr. does or says anything of note, Blue Jays fans are going to take notice, especially right now.

That’s why there were a few alarm bells earlier this week when Guerrero Jr. posted some video to his Instagram story where he was answering some questions. One of those questions was about whether the young phenom has had discussions about a long-term deal with the Blue Jays recently, and the answer was a quick and direct “no”.

Is this something we should be concerned about as Blue Jays fans? I would submit that it’s way too early for that, and that it even makes sense that the Jays haven’t made an offer at this point.

To begin with, Vlad Jr. has four more years of contract control at the moment, so the Blue Jays don’t have to be in a massive rush to get things done. In theory the contract will be cheaper if they can get it worked out sooner than later, but that’s no guarantee at this stage, especially after the massive deal Fernando Tatis Jr. signed with the Padres last year, and more recently, that Juan Soto reportedly turned down a 13-year, 350 million dollar offer.

On top of the complications around figuring out an appropriate offer given the market considerations, a new CBA could move the goalposts a bit, and that might be something that could work in either Guerrero Jr’s favour, or for the Blue Jays, although the latter is not as likely. Still, it could make sense on a few levels that one or both parties wanted to see how a new CBA worked out before broaching a franchise and career altering contract.

Speaking of seeing how things work out, I’m curious if the Blue Jays want to see another elite performance from Guerrero Jr. before committing to the long-term. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a complete believer in his breakout performance in 2021, and I think he’ll be an MVP candidate for many years to come. However, I’ll also acknowledge that it was barely more than a year ago that there were serious concerns about Vlad Jr’s conditioning, and even his future in general. I think he’s put 99% of that discussion to bed, but there’s a lot of faith that goes into a decade-long contract (or more), and I can understand some degree of reluctance here.

Most importantly though, I would argue that there really hasn’t been much time for the Blue Jays to get to something like this, at least not with how short the offseason has been so far. I’m all but certain that Ross Atkins and the front office team entered the winter with a list of immediate needs, and likely a few long-term ones as well. Consider that Atkins and company were able to extend Jose Berrios, sign Kevin Gausman to replace the departed Robbie Ray, and that they were also in on the discussions with Ray and Marcus Semien. On top of that, there were reports that they were among the teams legitimately serious about Corey Seager before he signed in Texas to join Semien.

If this were a normal winter in baseball then Atkins would have had more time to finish the offseason checklist that’s focused on 2022, and from there I believe the Jays would have shifted their attention to extension talks with Guerrero Jr., and likely Bo Bichette as well. It’s possible that they could be interested in trying to add a few more years to other contracts as well, such as Teoscar Hernandez, who has two more years left before he’ll hit free agency.

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Given the limited time they had to work with, and the true “win-now” mentality that the franchise is operating with these days, it certainly makes sense to me that those talks haven’t started yet. That said, I fully expect that the Blue Jays will at least broach the subject with Guerrero Jr. and his agent before the regular season begins (whenever that may be), and hopefully some traction can be made. I know he’s still just 22 and he’s only getting started, but I’d love to see Vlad Jr. in a Blue Jays uniform for life.