It will suck for everyone when the Blue Jays make the inevitable, cynical-as-shit decision to plug Vladimir Guerrero Jr. back into their minor league system at the start of this season, in order to rig his MLB service time and extend team control for as long as possible. Young Vlad will be getting screwed, of course, but that’s nothing new for top-tier prospects; his Blue Jays teammates will be deprived of what is projected to be a superior bat in the middle of their lineup; Blue Jays fans will have the thrill of rooting for one baseball’s most exciting prospects forestalled for genuinely sleazy non-baseball reasons; and baseball fans at large will miss out on his glorious, ringing dingers.
But spare a moment of pity for Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, who for the next several months at least will be required to articulate hilariously bogus justifications for why a world-class hitting prospect who has utterly demolished the minors somehow isn’t ready to help out at the major league level. Here he is just mashing various baseball-sounding words together for 50 sweaty, excruciating seconds, in a conversation with MLB Network Radio:
“There’s so many opportunities for him defensively, and what he can do to really maximize the power and the size and the strengths that he has. And everyone then points to defense but it’s really not just about defense, it’s about him having a 15, 20-year career and starting with an incredible foundation. And that’s everything that encompasses teammate [?], that’s the physical aspect, the base-running, the defense. And that physical aspect really plays into what type of offensive player he’s going to be. And I think he has the ability to be so versatile and dynamic, and we want to make sure we tap into all of that potential.”
Frankly, the Blue Jays deserve even more criticism and scorn if Atkins actually believes any of this vaguely corporate-scented word-salad. We don’t see [a generational power-hitter] as a major league player because uhh opportunities and foundations and the physical aspect. Because as we all know there is no physical aspect whatsoever to posting a 1.073 OPS across several levels of minor league baseball as an 18-year-old. All this blathering will be even funnier when young Vlad coincidentally hits all his “physical aspect” developmental goals exactly in time for his inevitable call-up to hit just shy of what is considered one year of MLB service. It will fall to Atkins to put all this exhausting service-time manipulation into palatable sound bites—this is going to be a deeply embarrassing time in his life, but unlike everyone else who will suffer by the team’s decision, he will have deserved it.