AL East Notes: Guerrero, Bichette, LeMahieu, Camden Yards
The futures of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are “the most pivotal bigger-picture personnel matter facing the Blue Jays,” Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes, and it remains to be see if both young stars will remain in Toronto over the long term. Guerrero and Bichette are both controlled via arbitration through the 2025 season, and since their price tags will only rise (Guerrero is already arb-eligible as a Super Two player and projected for $7.9MM in 2022), locking them up sooner rather than later would be beneficial for the Jays. That said, the two players have already done enough to ensure any long-term extensions would cost the Blue Jays a sizeable amount, certainly far more than $200MM and maybe even nearer the $300MM mark depending on the number of years involved.
As Davidi notes, Jose Berrios is the only Toronto player under contract beyond 2026, so the Jays have somewhat kept their long-term ledger clear in the event that Guerrero and/or Bichette are indeed extended to major deals. Speaking of the “and/or” usage, the Blue Jays might opt to just extend one of the two, “and the relationship dynamic between team and player could be impacted if there’s only one extension.” It will make for a fascinating topic for the coming years in Toronto, as Guerrero and Bichette’s contract situations weigh heavily on both the Jays, and on other players and teams around baseball looking to those two as possible precedents and comps.
More from around the AL East…
- Yankees officials believe DJ LeMahieu’s lackluster 2021 could be traced to a sports hernia that the infielder tried to play through before finally getting surgery after the season, The New York Post’s Dan Martin writes. A healthy LeMahieu that could return to his 2019-20 form would be an enormous help for the Bronx Bombers as they continue to figure out their infield picture, as LeMahieu’s position next season is still up in the air. Presuming New York does acquire a regular shortstop, LeMahieu seems set to toggle between third, second, and first base, with Gleyber Torres set for regular duty at the keystone and Gio Urshela and Luke Voit penciled into at least part-time duty at the corner spots.
- Renovations to Camden Yards’ left field area are intended to make the ballpark a little less treacherous for Orioles pitchers, and also to any future pitchers the team might be looking to eventually sign. As GM Mike Elias told The Athletic’s Dan Connolly and other reporters, the Orioles’ ability to attract free agent pitchers was “definitely a significant factor in” the decision to renovate. “The conditions here have been very extreme, towards the very most extreme in the league….It has been the case for decades and part of having a winning program is the ability to recruit free-agent pitchers, and that has been a historical challenge for this franchise,” Elias said. While Connolly doesn’t believe the team will ever be a true destination for ace-level free agent hurlers, changing the dimensions might at least help the O’s land some mid-level veterans or bounce-back candidates, who might’ve been normally wary about working at such a hitter-friendly venue.