Toronto Blue Jays: The Bo Bichette Dilemma

Sep 21, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) hits a
Sep 21, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) hits a / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Were the Blue Jays “Really After” Bogaerts?

If Scott Boras is to be believed, they were. As per Boras in an interview with Bob Nightengale ofUSA Today, “Minnesota, the Cubs, the Blue Jays, they were really after him.” As per front office practice, they rarely comment publicly on such reports. Boras doesn’t represent Bichette, so all his comments could do is lower his trade value if it implies the Blue Jays have soured on him. Or were they planning to move him to second base if they signed Bogaerts? That move would have needed buy-in from Bichette, and given the disagreement over value, is it fair to guess that Bo never agreed to that?

Could the arbitration dispute also sour the relationship, like it did with Marcus Stroman when he lost his case in February 2018 and was awarded the club’s offer of $6.5M instead of the $6.9M he’d requested? He ended up being traded with a year and a half of team control left at the July 2019 trade deadline when the team was clearly in rebuilding mode. What could three years of Bichette during a competitive window be worth?

The Jays don’t have anyone on the 26-man roster or MLB ready on the farm to replace Bichette at shortstop. Santiago Espinal and Otto López can back him up in a pinch, as could Matt Chapman. Prospects Addison Barger and Orelvis Martinez are on the 40-man roster, but probably both need more seasoning in the minors.

Should the Jays Explore a Trade?

Just reading that headline sounds crazy. Why would you trade a superstar ARB1 player entering his age 25 season, who is coming off a 4.5 fWAR season and has three more years of team control? The only answer to that would be if the Blue Jays were blown away with a trade package they couldn’t refuse, using a template like what San Diego put together for Juan Soto at the trade deadline in 2022, with multiple top 100 prospects, MLB-ready players, and a few lottery tickets with high ceilings.

Soto had one more year of service time, and had put up an fWAR of 19.0 through his first four seasons over 464 games and 2,003 plate appearances. He’s also not known for his defense, but for his bat, with a batting title in 2020 after hitting .351, three Silver Slugger Awards, two All-Star selections and the 2019 World Series title. Bo’s career 11.8 fWAR is over 393 games and 1,727 plate appearances, with an All-Star selection in 2021, so he’s not worth as much as Soto. But he comes with another year of team control.

However, trading Bichette would not only open a gaping hole at the No. 2 spot in the batting order, but there’s no clear heir apparent to replace him at shortstop. This means any trade return might have to include an MLB-ready shortstop, as well as potential replacements for pending free agents after the 2023 season like Hyun Jin Ryu, Matt Chapman, Kevin Kiermaier and Anthony Bass.

Looking at teams that need a shortstop, the Dodgers and Braves come to mind after losing Trea Turner and Darby Swanson, respectively. Boston is also likely looking for a post-Bogaerts solution, but it’s unlikely the Blue Jays would want to face Bichette on an opposing AL East team for the next three seasons or more.

The Dodgers have the best farm system of those potential trade partners, so here’s one potential trade package for Bo to spur the debate, which assumes that Barger is ready and could form a LHH/RHH platoon at shortstop with Espinal for the Blue Jays in 2022. Would a package of Dodgers prospects like potential ace RHP Bobby Miller (sixth-best RHP prospect on MLB Pipeline, ranked 26th overall as per their 2022 mid season update), 3B Miguel Vargas (No. 41 overall as per MLB Pipeline), lefty swinging CF James Outman (No. 13 in the Dodgers’ top 30), as well as a former hard-throwing Jays prospect RHP Nick Frasso (No. 17 in the Dodgers system) be enough for Toronto to trade Bichette? Just for reference, Baseball Trade Values (which admittedly isn’t a great indicator) suggests that would be a moderate overpay in value by Toronto at 94.1 versus 76.5 in return.

St. Louis also has some interesting prospects and talent, but they have 2021 Gold Glover Tommy Edman at shortstop. If they could convince Bo to move to 2B, what would a package of three top 100 prospects from the Cardinals look like? Prospect 3B/OF Jordan Walker (sixth overall in the 2022 updated MLB Pipeline ranking) is blocked at 3B in St. Louis by Nolan Arenado, and could replace Chapman after 2023. 55th overall prospect Masyn Winn is a plus defender at SS, and as per his MLB Pipeline profile, “had 10 throws measured at 95-plus mph by Statcast in Low-A Southeast in 2021 and famously unleashed a 100.5 mph throw in the 2022 All-Star Futures Game that set a Statcast record.” Add in No. 88 MLB prospect in lefty swinging OF Alec Burleson to replace Kiermaier after 2023, and Baseball Trade Values sees that as fair trade value for both teams at 98.5 to 94.1.

What do you think Jays fans? Would you trade Bichette? And for what sort of return?

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