Should the Toronto Blue Jays lost a power bat this offseason, there is one waiting in the organization that could bring some thunder.
The Blue Jays regular season is finally here. It’s exciting seeing our favourite players back doing what they do best. As management has put the roster in place, one huge issue still looms overhead. The contracts of both heavy bats, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, have not been dealt with. That doesn’t bode well considering Encarnacion gave the season start as the deadline for talks and there’s been no word on what is going on on the Bautista front. If the Blue Jays are willing to let this powerhouse duo go, is it all about the money or is there something or someone else going on?
Taking a look at the players coming up through the system, is it reasonable to think that a big bat replacement could be coming? Could this have prompted the starting point that stalled of a two year offer- with no dollar figure attached- to Encarnacion?
One name that comes to mind is Vlad Guerrero Jr. The Blue Jays signed the no. 1 international prospect July 2 with a bonus of $3.9 million. He seems to have everyone talking, his bat and strike zone reminiscent of his famous father, his confidence and poise beyond his years. He was even born in Montreal, Quebec.
Guerrero himself has stated his desire to be in the majors in the next two to three years. He spoke of this to Arden Zwelling of sportsnet.ca back in July. “In my mind, I’ll make it in two years,” Guerrero Jr. said. Considering the advice Jose Bautista gave him at the time, it sounded like the Blue Jays heavy bat might agree with that sort of timeline.
“He (Bautista) said I need to keep true to myself and that if I do I’m going to be here in a couple years.”
That would make Vlad Jr. among one of the youngest players to reach the majors. Whether he’ll be ready in two years is anybody’s guess. He blasted 33 homeruns in 60 swings in a Dominican Republic home run derby in 2014, and so far seems to have the ability to hit outside of the strike zone, an ability he inherited from his father, Vlad Guerrero.
In July 2015 Guerrero Jr. took batting practice with the Blue Jays, for his first taste of life in the big leagues. He didn’t disappoint.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 17, 2015
Guerrero Jr. has had to wait until he turned 17 to play in the Dominican league – his birthday was on March 16th – but is it really a stretch to think that Mark Shapiro is looking from within the organization to replace the Blue Jays heavy bats? A two to three year timeline seems in keeping with the club’s contract timeline wishes for Edwin Encarnacion at least. Shapiro is also known as a depth guy and has made his desire to have a strong farm system in place.
It is in the Blue Jays best interest to tread lightly and thoughtfully in the coming months. The Toronto fans have come out of a 22 year playoff dry spell and excitement has finally been restored. Going through another few non playoff seasons would set the organization back both financially and fan base wise. That should be paramount when making decisions going forward.
Best case scenario, Vlad Guerrero Jr. does make his MLB debut in 2-3 years with at least one big-bat mentor to guide him through the pressure of the limelight and keep him away from being the only focus. Setting up a winning strategy is in the best interest of all parties, and with the FA market looking pretty slim next season, it is also not the time to play roulette with what is already a championship team.
*Featured Image Credit: Blue Jays Twitter– cropped from original
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.