Contracts renewed for Bichette, Manoah after failing to reach agreement with Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays' Bo Bichette throws to first after fielding a ground ball off the bat of Chicago White Sox Luis Robert, not shown, for the out in the first inning of an American League baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, in Toronto on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Jon Blacker/CP)

TORONTO — The contracts of all-star shortstop Bo Bichette and right-hander Alek Manoah were renewed for the 2022 season after the pre-arbitration players and the Toronto Blue Jays failed to reach agreement on new deals, the club announced Wednesday.

Sixteen other players between 0-3 years of service time, including closer Jordan Romano, catcher Reese McGuire and infielder Santiago Espinal, agreed to contracts.

The renewals for Bichette and Manoah are notable because it means they declined salaries determined by the Blue Jays’ scale for pre-arbitration players, often a way to show displeasure with the team figure. As per terms of the uniform player’s contract, the renewals are set at the midway point between the team’s number and the major-league minimum.

That puts Bichette at $723,550 after rejecting a salary of $747,100, and Manoah at $706,200 after turning down $712,400, according to industry sources.

The Blue Jays’ system for compensating pre-arbitration players is determined by the major-league minimum, raised to $700,000 under the new collective bargaining agreement, and a team-established scale that provides raises of up to $40,000 depending on a player’s active service and playing time, according to industry sources.

Additional bonuses of $10,000 are paid if a player wins a qualifying award such as MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year or Reliever of the Year or is selected an all-star, Silver Slugger or Gold Glover.

Here are the salaries for their 18 pre-arbitration players, as provided by industry sources:

Some teams adjusted their scales in response to the new CBA but the Blue Jays, for the time being, maintained their system, believing the new $50-million pre-arbitration bonus pool centrally funded by Major League Baseball will level out any inconsistencies.

The money will be distributed first to eligible players who garner top awards consideration, with MVP and Cy Young Award winners receiving up to $2.5 million. The remaining money is allocated to the top-100 qualifiers based on a statistical formula modelled on WAR that is to be jointly developed by MLB and the players association.

A key test of the new system is whether it’s enough to ease some of the friction created by baseball’s pre-arbitration salary and renewal process, which is controlled by clubs and leaves players with no real leverage.

Some teams have provided raises well above the minimum under extraordinary circumstances, such as the Los Angeles Angels pushing Mike Trout up to $1 million following consecutive second-place finishes in AL MVP voting. In 2017, the Boston Red Sox renewed Mookie Betts at $950,000 when the sides couldn’t agree on a salary.

Approaches to renewals differ as well, as some teams are less punitive than the terms of the uniform player’s contract, while others take a harder line.

The Blue Jays as a matter of policy used to renew players who rejected offers at the minimum salary, a course of action they took with Aaron Sanchez in the spring 2017 following his breakout season the year before.

They changed their policy the following season.

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