Bo Bichette isn’t going anywhere

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
3 months ago
It started with a tweet, as it always does in baseball off-season discourse.
A few days ago, Locked on Cubs host and executive producer Matt Cozzi tweeted that the Chicago Cubs talked to the Toronto Blue Jays about a potential trade for shortstop Bo Bichette. The tweet then went on to explain that Bichette would play third base for the Cubs in this hypothetical trade and that it would cost a significant return given that Bichette is signed through 2025. 
The wildest part about this idea is that it isn’t completely baseless — MLB Network reporter Jon Morosi floated this idea a year ago, explaining that the Cubs showed interest in Bichette starting last year. It’s a believable narrative since the Cubs are now in an all-in mode after hiring manager Craig Counsell away from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs’ front office is desperate to solidify themselves as a real contender this off-season and prove their worth. Getting involved in potentially lucrative transaction discussions is only going to benefit their status from this point on.  
From the Jays’ perspective, keeping the trade doors open on Bichette is good. According to FanGraphs, Bicehtte’s WAR in 2021 was 5.1 but this figure declined to 4.5 in 2022 and 3.8 in 2023. While his WAR is projected for 4.2 in 2024, it’s not a number that will place him on the top five MLB shortstop list. It’s undeniable that Bichette is an extremely valuable player, but it’s also arguable that he’s not at the unprecedented generational talent level. Based on this quick analysis, it doesn’t hurt for the Jays’ front office to listen to offers on Bichette if the phone rang. 
The thin position player market is another factor that helps with this possible trade discussion. This off-season wouldn’t be a glitzy market on the hitters’ side, which is precisely why some hitters like Matt Chapman were more willing to explore free agency. Even with some valuable hitters available, many teams have shown interest in the trade market to find more offensive impact. In that sense, entertaining a trade around Bichette isn’t the worst idea. Theoretically, the Jays can capitalize on the thin market to maximize their return package. There’s no doubt that this winter is a sellers’ market, and if the Jays acted shrewdly, there’s a possibility of positively transforming the team unexpectedly through an unlikely trade. 
The problem with the current Bo Bichette trade discourse is that it’s become a delusional reality. Remember that this idea started with a talk between two teams. All major league teams talk to each other and the free agents to assess the market in the off-season. Given that, when media reports on talks among teams and free agents, it doesn’t carry much meaning until they disclose concrete details. That’s how the rumour about the Cubs’ interest in Bichette initially began, but baseball social media chatters started buying into this hypothetical as certainty.
What this perception of certainty invites is even more flamboyant and ludicrous trade proposals. As the idea of the Cubs’ potential trade for Bichette intensified, more baseball fans suggested how the Cubs could offer up infielders Christopher Morel and Nico Hoerner to help Bichette play in Wrigley Field. Then, the Seattle Mariners fans also engaged in the idea of trading for Bichette as the team traded away third baseman Eugenio Suárez to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Even the Dodgers fans argued to trade for Bichette by offering shortstop Miguel Rojas and three top prospects.
Anything is possible in the off-season but the main issue with these proposals is that teams aren’t giving up enough in a hypothetical trade for Bichette. How would Morel and Hoerner move the needle for the Jays when they’re dealing with a glut of infielders and prospects like Addison Barger and Damiano Palmagiani knocking on the doors to the majors? Even if the Mariners have a healthy farm system and viable major leaguers, how will their potential trade offers help the Jays improve in 2024? And how would Miguel Rojas and infield prospects contribute to a team with playoff aspirations? The trades have to hurt on both sides to work, and fundamentally ignoring that idea only creates nothing more than a dizzying hallucination.
Most of all, the harsh reality is that Bo Bichette isn’t going anywhere this off-season. It would be incredibly absurd for Toronto to let Bichette go after his stellar offensive season in 2023. For 135 games he played, Bichette recorded a .306 batting average, .335 on-base percentage and .480 slugging percentage, which were all above average. It’ll be hard for Bichette to replicate these numbers in 2024 but his past record indicates that he has potential for more. Besides, let’s not forget that he’s still only 25 years old — he still has a chance to develop more and unlock a new level. 
If it wasn’t clear, here’s what the Jays are aiming for in 2024, at least for this off-season: The Jays are looking to contend and dismantling their roster is the last thing on their mind. As much as teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and Mariners want to believe they have a chance at shooting for the World Series with Bichette through a trade, the fundamental idea they disregard is that the Jays don’t solely exist to serve their contention window. In fact, the Jays will look to enhance their roster around core players like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Even if there isn’t a solid extension to keep these players in Toronto for longer, the front office has no reason to entertain the idea of letting the core go earlier than it should. After all, what kind of message would they be sending if they let go of one of these young franchise players anyway? 
Undoubtedly, Bo Bichette has coveted skills and talents, but that doesn’t mean that other contenders can snatch him without giving up much. Creative trades can do wonders, but they only work if teams are being realistic about each other’s needs. And with that, this is the last warning against nonsensically ridiculous Bo Bichette trade proponents: the Jays will listen to your offers, but don’t even dream about getting Bichette if you’re throwing out volatile prospects and unwanted major league players on your team. 
So, repeat after me: the Toronto Blue Jays are not other contenders’ doormat or farm system. End of story.


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