Blue Jays slugger Guerrero focused on his offseason preparation ahead of the 2024 season

Tue, Feb 20, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Blue Jays slugger Guerrero focused on his offseason preparation ahead of the 2024 season

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the big winner earlier this month in salary arbitration.

Now the Toronto Blue Jays slugger feels that his hard work during the offseason will propel him to big season on the field.

"I believe I had a great offseason," Guerrero said through an interpreter after the Blue Jays' first full-squad workout on Tuesday. "I achieved all the goals that I wanted to achieve. Being in shape like I used to be before previous years, and I really believe that I achieved that goal. I feel great right now."

Guerrero won a record $19.9 million in salary arbitration when a three-person panel picked his request rather than the Toronto Blue Jays' $18.05 million offer.

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A three-time All-Star first baseman, Guerrero hit .264 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs last year, when he had a $14.5 million salary. He is eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

Guerrero acknowledged he played in pain during a lot of games, but he blamed himself for that. He was slowed by issues with right knee and left wrist.

"That's not an excuse," he said. "Sometimes you got to go on the field and grind it even when everything hurts. Also, I probably will blame that because I didn't have the best preparation on the offseason last year."

When asked specifically what hurt, Guerrero smiled and said, "from head to toe."

"Stay healthy through the season," Guerrero said. "Making sure that every time I take the field I go out there painless so I can give 100% to my team, my teammates."

Guerrero feels like he did before what is considered to be his best season, 2021, when he tied for the major league lead with 48 home runs and hit .311 with 111 RBIs.

Guerrero topped the previous high arbitration awarded from a hearing - the $14 million Seattle outfielder Teoscar Hernandez received last year. He has no bitterness about progress.

"It was a new experience for me, of course," Guerrero said. "But I don't feel bad at all. I understand this as part of the business. No hard feelings."

A son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, the younger Guerrero turns 25 next month. He has a .279 average with 130 homers and 404 RBIs in five seasons with the Blue Jays.

"I think, obviously, he's in great shape physically and it allows him to be a little bit more durable and be a little bit more, you know, fresh every single day," Toronto manager John Schneider said. "He plays a ton, so I think really kind of just taking ownership of that this offseason and showing up the way he did is exactly what we were hoping for."

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