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Olney: It's time for 'really hard decisions' on Guerrero, Bichette


The Toronto Blue Jays have some difficult decisions to make as the 2024 MLB trade deadline quickly approaches.

After two straight playoff appearances, the Blue Jays currently sit in last place in the American League East with a 39-46 record.

Toronto has been trying to play out of the hole that they’ve created for themselves but are running out of time, with general manager Ross Atkins telling the media last week that the coming days were “exceptionally important” in the direction they take at the deadline.

The Blue Jays have six key players who are entering free agency after this season and core players Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette will join them in 2026.

Buster Olney of ESPN joined TSN1050’s First Up on Wednesday to discuss the Blue Jays’ plans for Guerrero and Bichette, and what direction the Blue Jays may take heading into the July 30 trade deadline.

“Once you go past the trade deadline, the potential value of a Guerrero and Bichette absolutely plummets,” said Olney. “The last thing in the world you want to do is be sitting in this position next July, taking 60 cents of the dollar for [those two players] if you decide you don’t want to build around them and sign them to long-term deals.”

The idea of trading Bichette and Guerrero is a difficult decision to make as they have been the faces of the franchise since they entered the league in 2019.

Guerrero Jr leads the team with a .298 batting average with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 84 games this season. The 25-year-old first baseman is a three-time all-star and finished second in AL MVP voting in 2021 after hitting 48 home runs and 111 RBIs with a .311 batting average.

Bichette had a career-best .306 batting average last season with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs. However, the 26-year-old shortstop has struggled this season, hitting .231 with four home runs and 28 RBIs.

“The perception from some of the other teams is that they most likely play is that the Blue Jays try to retool for next year and essentially defer some of the big picture questions that they have,” said Olney. “One official told me last week that [the Blue Jays situation] reminds him of the Chicago Cubs after they won the World Series in 2017. The Cubs’ front office kept waiting for the break out and waiting for the championship run to happen, but it never did.”

Toronto can still make some moves at the deadline with pitchers Yusei Kikuchi, Trevor Richards, and Yimi Garcia expected to be in high demand as pending free agents, while veterans Justin Turner, Kevin Kiermaier, and Danny Jansen could also be used as bait for teams contending for a playoff spot.

Olney suggests that if the Blue Jays don’t make any changes to the core of the team, changes may instead come in the front office and the coaching side.

“[Other teams] think changes is coming to the Blue Jays one way or another given the disappointment of this year,” said Olney. “Atkins is under contract through 2026, while [president] Mark Shapiro is under contract through 2025. If they’re not going to make major changes with the roster to placate an unhappy fan base, they could do more things in terms of staffers."