Blue Jays sign 'MVP-caliber' Bichette to 3-year deal

February 10th, 2023

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have agreed to terms on a three-year, $33.6 million deal with shortstop , avoiding arbitration in 2023 and covering his three years of arbitration eligibility.

The contract doesn’t tie Bichette to the Blue Jays for any additional years beyond his original team control, but it gives both sides some financial certainty in the years to come. Bichette, who turns 25 in early March, could still hit free agency following the 2025 season.

Prior to this deal, Bichette was the Blue Jays’ lone arbitration case remaining and the two sides weren’t necessarily close. Now, along with the certainty, Bichette will have a shot at some escalators on this deal that general manager Ross Atkins said Friday are tied to receiving future AL MVP Award votes. 

“He does have the belief that he will continue to be one of the best players in the game, and so do we,” Atkins said. “If that weren’t the case, this deal doesn’t happen. These types of deals happen with MVP-caliber players, and we believe that he is an MVP-caliber player and will continue to be.”

Bichette’s name has long been centered in extension discussions alongside With so many young superstars across baseball signing massive deals -- some before even reaching their arbitration years -- there’s an obvious temptation from both sides. It’s about finding a point in the middle that makes sense for both, though, which team president Mark Shapiro has called “shared risk” in the past.

“The closer they get to free agency, the more that changes their equation of risk,” Shapiro said in early December. “It makes them probably less willing to give up the risk of what it means to be out there. The timing, it impacts the sharing of the risk and that sweet spot equation. I think that’s the right word. We’re looking for the sweet spot.”

At the same time, a young player like Bichette knows how valuable they would be on the open market with up to 30 bidders, not just one, so these situations will be fascinating to watch in the coming years and that spotlight will only grow brighter. With Bichette and Guerrero, you could also add in as an early extension candidate, fresh off a third-place finish in American League Cy Young Award voting at 24 years old.

Using Bichette as the freshest case, though, Atkins believes that these relatively smaller extensions can help towards something larger down the line.

Using Bichette as the freshest case, though, Atkins believes that these relatively smaller extensions can help towards something larger down the line.

“We’re always open to that,” Atkins said. “That dialogue is ongoing, as it is with many players, and this is a good step in that process. Ultimately, you don’t get any deal beyond one year done that doesn’t share some risk. When there are extensions and there are extended pre-arb deals, they always involve sharing some risk.”

The season ahead is full with potential for Bichette, who played a surprisingly average brand of baseball through much of 2022. Then, in September, he erupted.

From Sept. 1 on, Bichette hit .406 with seven home runs and a 1.105 OPS over 32 games, playing with that electric energy we saw so much of in previous seasons. The free-swinging shortstop is a perennial All-Star candidate when he’s at his best, and given his age, there’s still significant upside for a player who is described throughout the organization as one of this club’s hardest workers.