Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays “haven’t had the conversations yet” this winter about a multi-year extension, the slugger tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters. Guerrero didn’t sound overly concerned about the lack of talks, saying “I’m going to stay focused on working hard and let my team take care of that.” The idea of a long-term deal between Guerrero and the Jays has been a topic essentially since Guerrero arrived in the majors as baseball’s top prospect, and though the first baseman is heading into his fifth MLB season, the clock isn’t yet ticking too loudly on Guerrero’s team control. Toronto still has arbitration control over Guerrero through the 2025 season, and the two sides already worked out a contract for Guerrero for 2023, as he’ll earn $14.5MM for the coming year.
With Guerrero set to become a free agent prior to his age-27 season, this relatively early entry into the market likely means a particularly large payday is awaiting the first baseman — whether from another team, or in the form of an extension from the Blue Jays to lock Guerrero up as the face of the franchise. As Davidi notes, the massive longer-term contracts handed out this winter undoubtedly caught the attention of both the Jays and Guerrero’s representatives, and now both sides may have a better view of what it might cost the Blue Jays to retain Guerrero’s services. Since most extension talks usually don’t begin until deeper into Spring Training, it will be interesting to watch if Guerrero and the Jays have any substantive negotiations, or if any real progress is made towards an extension.
More from the AL East…
- After three injury-riddled seasons, Chris Sale told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham) that he is “very, very excited” about being healthy and heading for his first normal Spring Training since 2019. Between a Tommy John surgery, a fractured rib, and fractures to his finger and wrist, Sale has pitched only 48 1/3 Major League innings since the start of the 2020 season, which was also the first season of a five-year, $145MM contract extension Sale had signed with the Red Sox the year prior. Given the lack of return on this extension, Sale feels “I owe my teammates the starting pitcher they thought they were going to get. I owe the front office the starting pitcher they paid for. I owe the fans performances they’re paying to come and see.” Looking for a silver lining to his injury woes, Sale noted “that’s three years of [pitching] that’s not on my arm” as he enters his age-34 season. “That’s not going on the odometer. I’ve kept myself in really good physical shape. My arm’s feeling good. I don’t have any hesitation going forward with pitching.”
- Seven Rays players are slated for arbitration hearings, which is (as per MLB.com) is the third-highest number of hearings for any team in the history of the arb process. President of baseball operations Erik Neander felt the lack of agreement in negotiations with the seven prior to the arbitration filing deadline were “much more about the uniqueness of several players’ career paths leading to a bit of a more challenging experience for both parties to find common ground,” the executive told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “But I very much believe that everyone worked to find it — we just didn’t quite get there.” As Topkin notes, the differences between the Rays’ submitted salary figures and the seven players’ figures work out to only $2.85MM in total. That said, it doesn’t seem likely that any deals will be worked out before the sides present their cases to an arbiter, unless a player signs a multi-year contract. [RELATED: the full list of the 33 players who are heading for arbitration hearings]