Arbitration Looms As Blue Jays & Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Nearly $2 Million Apart In Contract Talks

The Toronto Blue Jays and their star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are headed to salary arbitration after failing to agree on a contract for the 2024 season.

This situation has arisen as both parties couldn't bridge their nearly $2 million difference in salary expectations before the set deadline.

Guerrero Jr. is seeking $19.9 million, whereas the Blue Jays have offered $18.05 million.

This disagreement marks a notable point in the club's negotiation history as Guerrero was the only one among Toronto's 11 arbitration-eligible players who didn't reach an agreement with the team.

Guerrero Jr.'s performance last season was slightly underwhelming, with a batting average of .264, 26 home runs, and 94 RBIs, earning him $14.5 million.

However, the Blue Jays are known as a "file-and-trial" team, meaning they are inclined to proceed to a hearing once the filing deadline has passed without an agreement, unless a multi-year deal is reached.

The process of arbitration, while based on comparable player statistics and individual achievements, can sometimes lead to strained relationships between the player and the team.

This is a sensitive situation, particularly for a player of Guerrero's caliber, who is two seasons away from being eligible for free agency and possibly appearing on the open market.

The outcome of this arbitration could also have broader implications for the Blue Jays, considering Guerrero is part of a key group of players who could become free agents after 2025.

This group includes other important team members like Bo Bichette, Jordan Romano, and Cavan Biggio, all of whom have reached agreements to avoid arbitration this year.

The Blue Jays have a history of 15 arbitration hearings, with a record of winning nine of them. The last time the team went to a hearing was in 2019, which could suggest that this hearing with Guerrero Jr. is a relatively rare event for the club.

It's also worth noting that aside from the contract negotiations, Guerrero Jr. has reportedly expressed interest in a long-term contract extension, possibly seeking a 12-season deal with annual earnings between $25 to $30 million, amounting to a total of around $300 million. Photo Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports