The Toronto Blue Jays have settled with 11 of their 12 arbitration-eligible players ahead of the 2023 season, avoiding arbitration with young core players including All-Star 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., All-Star closer Jordan Romano, catcher Danny Jansen and newly acquired OF/C Daulton Varsho. Friday was the final day for arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures with their teams.
Bo Bichette is the only player yet to agree to a contract with Toronto, which means he’ll go to arbitration hearings if they cannot agree to terms before a hearing in February, or they’re trying to negotiate a multi-year deal or longer term extension to buy out his remaining arbitration years. Note he did disagree last year with the Blue Jays formulaic system for pre-arbitration players, so let’s hope he’s not holding a grudge?
As per MLB, “If the club and player have not agreed on a salary by a deadline [Friday, January 13th this year], the club and player must exchange salary figures for the upcoming season. After the figures are exchanged, a hearing is scheduled (typically in February). If no one-year or multi-year settlement can be reached by the hearing date, the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators. After hearing arguments from both sides, the panel selects either the salary figure of either the player or the club (but not one in between) as the player's salary for the upcoming season.”
Jeff Passan of ESPN reports Bichette is seeking $7.5M, and the Blue Jays have countered with a $5M offer. MLBTR had projected a $6.1M arbitration salary for Bo in 2023.
Most of the deals announced today were in-line with what MLBTR’s Matt Swartz‘s model here had projected last fall. Romano signed slightly above his projected salary at $4.5375M, as did Varsho ($3.05M), Cavan Biggio ($2.8M) and Tim Mayza ($2.1M).
Guerrero ($14.5M), Jansen ($3.5M), Adam Cimber ($3.15M), Erik Swanson ($1.25M) and Trent Thornton ($1.0M) all signed slightly below their projected awards.
Note that all of Romano, Jansen, Mayza, Cimber and Espinal are on the Blue Jays Winter Tour which started Friday in Vancouver, so it’s likely they’d already agreed to these contracts before the deadline, and yesterday was just the formal announcement. They all look happy, so that’s a good sign!
In terms of what this means for the Blue Jays 2023 payroll, as per RosterResource their competitive balance tax (CBT), or luxury tax payroll now stands at $242M, including the remaining $6.1 million projected award for Bichette. Note the number of arbitration eligible players will also grow ahead of the 2024 season, as ace Alek Manoah (assuming he reaches ‘Super Two’ status) and All-Star catcher Alejandro Kirk will both join this list.
So we’ll see what happens with Bo. For now, here’s a gratuitous video of Vladdy crushing moonshots in the Dominican Republic. Pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin in 33 days on February 16th, and the first full squad workout is on February 21st.