TORONTO — With a hearing looming Thursday, the Blue Jays avoided arbitration with star shortstop Bo Bichette Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year deal according to industry sources.
While details have not yet been made public, it’s believed to be a three-year term. That would buy out all three of Bichette’s arbitration years and ensure he never has to go to a hearing with the team that drafted him in 2016.
Yet this deal doesn’t impact Bichette’s timeline to free agency. Like teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., he’s slated to hit free agency three seasons from now, after 2025. A much larger deal would be required to keep him off the open market beyond then.
In the meantime, Bichette gets the biggest payday of his career — while terms haven’t been announced, one source suggested $33.5 million or so would be a fair number for the next three seasons. As for the Blue Jays, they get cost certainty, just as they did this time last year with Matt Chapman.
Last month Bichette filed at $7.5 million while the Blue Jays countered at $5 million. The $2.5 million gap was tied for the largest in MLB with Kyle Tucker of the Houston Astros.
By reaching an agreement Thursday, the Blue Jays took the decision out of the hands of arbitrators, built some goodwill with an all-star player and turned the focus back to the field. That’s a positive step, even if far bigger decisions are coming within the next few years.