Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette dilemma has been resolved

Sep 30, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) before the start
Sep 30, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) before the start / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the news that the Blue Jays and their young star have agreed to a three-year deal to buy out his remaining three arbitration years, the Bo Bichette dilemma has been resolved. They avoid a binary arbitration hearing this Thursday, and we can all get back to a focus on Spring Training, with all of the current Jays 40-man roster now under contract for 2023. With Bichette turning 25 next month, he’s now signed through the 2025 season, after which he still could hit free agency ahead of his age 28 season.

While financial terms have yet to be disclosed, something in the ballpark of $33.5M, at an AAV of $11.2M, would take the Blue Jays projected 2023 competitive balance (CBT), or luxury tax payroll into the $250~251M range. Given this would be their first time ever exceeding the threshold, that would trigger a circa $3.5~4.0M luxury tax penalty.

For those keeping count, that’s based on a 20% penalty on all overages above the $233 million CBT threshold for 2023, plus they would potentially trigger a further 12.5% surcharge on those overages if the luxury tax payroll were to rise above $253M but stay below $273M this season.

But more importantly for Jays fans, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet noted: “By reaching an agreement Tuesday, the Blue Jays took the decision out of the hands of arbitrators, built some goodwill with an all-star player and turned the focus back to the field. That’s a positive step, even if far bigger decisions are coming within the next few years.’

They also reward a great ambassador for the team. Bichette was the Blue Jays nominee for the Roberto Clemente award last year for character, community involvement and philanthropy, and his off-field commitment to giving back to his community is truly outstanding.

Bichette enters his age 25 season coming off a 3.6 bWAR campaign in 2022, and should be poised to have three very productive years leading up to free agency after 2025. His defense at shortstop remains a concern, but as Andew Stoeten of The Batflip notes below, Bo generates impressive value.

So Bo will flow without short-term contract or arbitration hearing concerns, which removes the cloud hanging over this situation. The focus returns to the field, and that’s a huge positive. Most importantly, the Jays front office finally showed a multi-year commitment to one of their bright, young homegrown stars.

Could this serve as a template for future multi-year deals with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alek Manoah, Alejandro Kirk and even Daulton Varsho? We shall see. But in the meantime, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Dunedin next week and only 50 days until Opening Day, let’s go Blue Jays!

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