Toronto Blue Jays’ general manager Ross Atkins is just playing the game, by not declaring that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is ready for the Majors.
When the assembled media met Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins on Thursday morning, there was a lot to ask about. Unsurprisingly, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was right at the top of the list of questions.
The 2019 campaign is expected to be a long and frustrating one for Blue Jays fans. With the team undergoing a major rebuild, they aren’t expected to be genuine contenders for the postseason.
As such, players such as Guerrero Jr. become even more important, as a beacon of hope for the future. As the number one prospect in all of baseball and the future face of the franchise, he gives fans a reason to continue going to the ballpark.
Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the 19-year-old is apparently not yet ready for the Majors. Consider the comments of Atkins, as reported by the Toronto Sun‘s Rob Longley:
"“We’ll see how spring training progresses. Spring training is a piece of his development…There’s no firm timeline on when he arrives and when he plays in Toronto for the first time, but we want to make sure he’s the best possible third baseman and the best possible hitter he can be.”"
In other words, Guerrero Jr. will not be playing for the Blue Jays when the regular season starts on Mar. 28. Longley called this half cautious and half insulting.
However, the reality is this move by the team actually makes perfect sense. All Atkins is doing, is playing the game.
As we’ve previously explained, it’s all down to service time. If the Blue Jays delay Guerrero Jr.’s debut by a few weeks, they will gain an extra year of team control:
"According to the rules, 172 days on a Major League roster in any given season counts as a full year of service. With the 2019 season lasting 187 days, the Blue Jays only need to hold Guerrero Jr. back for just over two weeks, in order to gain that extra year of control.More from Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays avoid disaster as Kevin Gausman injury not seriousBlue Jays interested in outfielder Andrew BenintendiBlue Jays hope fresh start for Sergio Romo boosts bullpenBlue Jays need to have a break from Yusei KikuchiBlue Jays: Nate Pearson suffers yet another setback"
Of course, Toronto cannot admit the real reason for delaying the third baseman’s Major League debut, as this would be seen as a manipulation of the rules. As a result, we all have to go through the charade of Atkins telling the media that the young star still needs to work on his game.
Atkins did actually allude to what the team is doing, while also attempting to explain where Guerrero Jr. still needs work. As per Longley:
"“Everyone’s aware of timelines and the rules of the game. We’re just going to focus on how we put the best team together and how we help Vladdy become a better player. He continues to make strides…The work to stay agile and to keep him at third base as long as possible is the biggest challenge and he continues to make progress there.”"
Guerrero Jr. needs no such help or development with his hitting. He blazed a trail through the various minor league levels last year.
The Montreal, Quebec native had a slash line of .381/.437/.636, as he hit 20 homers and 78 RBIs. At Triple-A specifically, he had a .336 batting average, while hitting six home runs and 16 RBIs in just 30 games for the Buffalo Bisons.
They say patience is a virtue, which is certainly the case with Guerrero Jr. By waiting a few weeks into the new season, Blue Jays fans will get to have him around for a whole extra year and that it definitely worth the manufactured delay.
We assume most Toronto Blue Jays fans are on board with the team’s approach to Guerrero Jr. However, if you’re not, then let us know why. Regardless, what kind of success are you predicting for him in 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.