Blue Jays avoid arbitration with 11 players; Vlad not on the list

January 12th, 2024

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays announced agreements with 11 of their 12 arbitration-eligible players, with one glaring absence.

Toronto did not reach a deal with ahead of Thursday’s 8 p.m. ET deadline. The All-Star first baseman, who is on his second-to-last year of arbitration eligibility, may still negotiate a contract with the Blue Jays before a hearing is required.

Jordan Romano, Daulton Varsho and Danny Jansen headlined the list of players who avoided arbitration:

• RHP Jordan Romano: $7.75 million
• OF Daulton Varsho: $5.65 million
• C Danny Jansen: $5.2 million
• INF Cavan Biggio: $4.21 million
• LHP Tim Mayza: $3.5 million
• C Alejandro Kirk: $2.8 million
• RHP Erik Swanson: $2.75 million
• INF Santiago Espinal: $2.725 million
• RHP Trevor Richards: $2.15 million
• LHP Génesis Cabrera: $1,512,500
• RHP Nate Pearson: $800,000

The road from here to an arbitration hearing is a long one, so the lack of a deal between the Blue Jays and Guerrero isn’t necessarily alarming. Last year, Toronto found itself in a similar situation with star shortstop Bo Bichette before signing him to a three-year extension that bought out his remaining arb years nearly one month later.

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Guerrero is projected to earn $21 million this year -- a substantial raise from the $14.5 million he made in 2023.

Signing the 24-year-old to a long-term extension has been a well-discussed priority for the front office, especially as the Blue Jays’ young core continues to get more expensive. After making a strong push for Shohei Ohtani, the club has yet to make a big splash this offseason.

“I think [president and CEO] Mark [Shapiro] has done an incredible job of working with ownership to ensure that we are nimble, and it has only increased our ability to present opportunities,” general manager Ross Atkins said in November. “We've always had a great deal of support.”

Two seasons removed from his American League MVP runner-up performance, Guerrero saw a dip in production in 2022 and '23. Last season, he batted .264 with a .789 OPS, 26 home runs and 91 RBIs -- the type of season that only falls in the “lackluster” category if you’re talking about one of baseball’s great talents.

“Vladdy has been so successful,” said Atkins. “The interesting thing about him in his batted-ball data, how hard he’s hitting the ball and how often, there are still some really positive things about Vladdy and last year’s performance. There’s positive things about Vladdy’s performance, just overarching. They just didn't meet his expectations for the year.”

Should Guerrero and the Blue Jays fail to reach an agreement, an arbitration hearing will follow, with both parties presenting their cases to a panel that will select the salary put forth by either the club or the player.