Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette has come up in some trade rumors this offseason but it doesn’t appear there’s much momentum towards a deal there. Both Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet addressed the possibility in columns today, both downplaying the likelihood of the Jays choosing this path.
Nicholson-Smith says he spoke with executives with teams other than the Jays, who gave him the impression the Jays are planning to hold. Rosenthal says the Jays are indeed getting calls from other clubs about Bichette and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. but that doesn’t mean they are motivated to move either.
This is all fairly understandable under the conditions of this winter’s market. It’s generally agreed that the crop of free agent hitters is on the weak side, which would naturally lead clubs to find upgrades on the trading block. But the Jays are also looking to upgrade their own position player group, having to replace free agents Matt Chapman, Whit Merrifield, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier. Subtracting Bichette and/or Guerrero would only make that task harder and it’s hard to imagine a trade that would make sense for both sides.
Each of Bichette and Guerrero are two years away from free agency, so any club looking to acquire them would naturally be in win-now mode. But the Jays are in a competitive window as well, meaning MLB-ready talent would have to be coming back in exchange, and it would be difficult to send something to the Jays that makes the club better than Bichette does. The shortstop has produced 13.5 wins above replacement over the past three years, per FanGraphs, which puts him in the top 25 of all position players in the league. Guerrero’s past two seasons weren’t as strong as his 2021 campaign but he was still good for roughly 30 homers with a low strikeout rate. With the Jays actively pursuing Shohei Ohtani, parting ways with a star player like Bichette or Guerrero wouldn’t help their pitch.
In terms of Toronto’s pursuits, it’s been reported that the Jays are interested in a Chapman reunion and that still appears to be the case. Both Nicholson-Smith and Keegan Matheson of MLB.com indicate that the dialogue is still open between the Jays and Chapman but it doesn’t appear there’s anything close to getting done. Chapman reportedly turned down an extension offer of four or five years while still with the club.
Another option the Jays considered was right-hander Aaron Nola, with Nicholson-Smith reporting that the club “showed early interest” in the righty before he re-signed with the Phillies. Though the lineup seems to the priority for the Jays, it seems there’s at least some openness to a rotation addition, with the Jays having also been connected to Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
The rotation already has Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt and Yusei Kikuchi in four spots, with Alek Manoah, Bowden Francis, Mitch White and prospect Ricky Tiedemann options for the back end. Adding Nola or Yamamoto in there would likely lead to someone becoming available in trade, with Jays reportedly open to moving Manoah.
Overall, it’s been a quiet offseason for the Jays thus far, with the team having only made perfunctory transactions in the past few weeks. It’s entirely possible that all their upcoming moves will hinge on their pursuit of Ohtani, as the club is seen as one of a handful of legitimate contenders for the two-way superstar. Though they have some openness to reuniting with Chapman, pursuing Yamamoto or perhaps going after Cody Bellinger, all of those options may be on the backburner until the Ohtani situation has some clarity. Since Ohtani is widely expected to require a record-breaking deal of $500MM or more, it stands to reason that the club would want to figure out their chances there before committing to other options that will also require significant funds.