Blue Jays: Is the front office aggressively pursuing contract extensions?

Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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Eyebrows were raised this week when Blue Jays superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr., in Toronto for the Winter Tour, told reporters that in terms of a long-term contract extension, “this year we haven’t had the conversations yet. I’m just going to stay focused on working hard and helping my team.”

Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins told reporters at his year end press conference last October 11th that the Jays planned to “continue [contract extension] talks this offseason.”

The front office obviously keeps things pretty close to the chest, but using the powers of deduction, we can assume he wasn’t referring to any of the players no longer with the team since October’s AL Wild Card series. Nor would he have been referring to players who’ve signed free agent or extension contract deals already. Breaking it down further to “a few core players” eliminates others.

The current front office has only extended two players since they were hired in the fall of 2015: Randall Grichuk (April 2019; five-years, $52M) and José Berríos (November 2021; seven-years, $131M). Both players were 27-years-old at the time of those extensions; Grichuk was in his second year of arbitration eligibility, while Berrios was in his third year. They have yet to extend any homegrown players to date.

Overlaying those players currently under age 27, their arbitration eligibility status, and who is considered to be a part of "core" would suggest that — based on the previous examples of Grichuk and Berríos — the current priorities for longer-term contract extensions should most likely be (in order of importance): Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Daulton Varsho, and then ace Alek Manoah and Alejandro Kirk, who are both currently pre-arbitration, but will both likely become arbitration eligible ahead of next season assuming full seasons of service time this year.