At some point soon, the Toronto Blue Jays are expected to call up third baseman and top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He is currently working his way back from a spring-training oblique injury and, more importantly, Guerrero has already spent enough time in the minors this year to push his free agency one year to the 2025-26 offseason.

These days teams are very aggressive signing their top young players to below-market contract extensions, and it stands to reason the Blue Jays will approach Guerrero about a deal soon. On Saturday, Vlad Jr. told Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune the two sides have not yet discussed an extension. From Foley:

“That point hasn’t reached yet,” Guerrero said through a translator Saturday about whether he’d be interested in something similar from the Blue Jays. “We’re not there yet. But if they offered a contract and it looked good — I’m still keeping my mind on just playing in the major leagues and staying with this team.” 

The White Sox set the market for a potential Vlad Jr. extension when they signed fellow tippy-top prospect Eloy Jimenez to a six-year, $43 million deal with two club options in spring training. That is easily the largest deal ever given to the player yet to make his MLB debut. It would not be unreasonable for Guerrero to demand more than Jimenez given the prospect rankings. He could have his eyes on Ronald Acuna‘s eight-year, $100 million extension.

It is possible signing Guerrero long-term will be difficult, if not impossible, because he is presumably not as desperate for that big payday as other players. He received a $3.9 million bonus as an amateur and his father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, made over $125 million during his playing days. Vlad Jr. may be content (and already have the financial security) to go year-to-year and maximize his earning potential through arbitration and later free agency.

Last season Guerrero, who turned only 20 last month, hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and nearly as many walks (37) as strikeouts (38) in 95 games around a knee injury, mostly as Double-A and Triple-A. MLB.com ranked Vlad Jr. as the game’s top prospect prior to the season. Here is a snippet of their scouting report:

Guerrero is an elite, generational-type hitter who stands out as much for his physical tools at the plate as his approach and capacity for making adjustments. His swing is both explosive and efficient, a combination of electric bat speed, physical strength and off-the-charts barrel control, and it makes him adept at crushing both heaters and secondary pitches to all parts of the field. He has 80-grade raw power and hit a career-high 20 home runs in 2018, but it’s widely agreed that Guerrero is merely scraping the surface of his power ceiling. His pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone belie his age and experience, as he absolutely punishes mistakes, seldom expands his zone and rarely strikes out … Guerrero is set to become one of baseball’s premier hitters, with the ceiling of a perennial MVP candidate.

So far this season Guerrero is 6 for 20 (.300) with two doubles, one homer, three walks, and two strikeouts in six minor-league games as he works his way back from the oblique injury. For what it’s worth, ZiPS projects Vlad Jr. as a true talent .288/.352/.483 big-league hitter in 2019. The system believes in him that much.

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