Later this week, a panel of arbitrators will sit in a Florida conference room and listen to competing presentations about Bo Bichette.
The purpose of this get together? To determine whether the Blue Jays infielder will earn $5 million, the club's offer, or $7.5 million, Bichette’s request. The discussion won’t be open to the public — far from it. In fact, the date of the hearing itself remains a well-kept secret to all but those working on the case. What’s known now: Bichette’s hearing is scheduled in the coming days, maybe as soon as Wednesday.
Behind the closed doors of that room, the Blue Jays will point to players they deem comparable to Bichette. According to experienced arbitration people who aren’t working on this specific case, names like Willy Adames, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Javier Baez will likely figure in here. Meanwhile, Bichette’s representatives will point to comparables that further his case. Players such as teammate Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Pete Alonso, for instance. Each side has a full hour. Then come the rebuttals — half an hour apiece — and, finally, a decision.
The process is clunky at best. Why should independent arbitrators like retired judges determine these salaries when they typically lack expertise in baseball? Why is Bichette, an all-star shortstop who’s led the American League in hits each of the last two seasons, making middle reliever money? And why all this secrecy?
“Hate it,” one longtime baseball person said of arbitration. “Absolutely hate it.”
No, it's not ideal. But after nearly 50 years, arbitration is seemingly here to stay, collectively bargained into the sport’s structure by both players and owners. And it does have its supporters. But either way, maybe it’s actually best to skim past some of those questions and focus more on what the outcome of Bichette’s hearing will tell us.
Since this is the Florida native’s first t