Well this certainly wasn’t what I was expecting to read after flying into Las Vegas late last night. As you have heard by now, the Blue Jays have parted ways with Vladimir Guerrero after the 37-year-old reportedly issued the team an ultimatum to either call him up to the big leagues by 1:30 p.m. ET this afternoon or release him from his contract.
“I left the team, right now I am at home in Anaheim. I was not treated as a professional. I am not a boy,” one tweet read.
“Last night after the game, I sent my letter of resignation to the organization. I am not a boy, I demand respect,” read another.
“I proved I’m ready. I have nothing more to prove in the minors,” Guerrero added.
The thing, though, is that Guerrero barely proved anything in the minors.
Signed to a minor league contract on May 10, Guerrero appeared in a handful of extended spring training games before reporting to Advanced-A Dunedin. There, he did what any player that considers himself big-league ready should do, which was absolutely rake against minor league pitchers nearly half his age. In four games, Guerrero went 9-for-20 with one double, four home runs and eight RBI.
In a potential stepping stone to his return to the Majors, Guerrero reported to Triple-A Las Vegas at the beginning of June. There, however, he hit just .214 (6-for-28) with two doubles in his first seven games, before leaving early after getting hit on the hand with a pitch in Saturday’s contest against Fresno. When he returned to action last night, he went 4-for-5 in only his second multi-hit game with the 51s this season, with a triple and two RBI before reportedly leaving the team after the game.
With David Cooper deserving an extended look at first base after hitting .314 with an .842 OPS in 15 games this season and Edwin Encarnacion leading the Jays offense with a .934 OPS out of the DH spot, there really wasn’t any room for Guerrero. especially when factoring in the Blue Jays’ upcoming schedule. Though they have two AL-rule interleague series against the Nationals and Phillies at Rogers Centre this week, the Blue Jays hit the road for three-game series in Milwaukee and Miami next week. Guerrero, a DH at most, would have limited the Blue Jays’ flexibility as a bat off the bench, which was a big reason why Yan Gomes, capable of playing at least four positions, was called up prior to the Jays’ series in Atlanta last week.
While Guerrero might feel that he’s major league-ready, it’s a selfish move on his part to demand a call-up. Including extended spring training, he probably appeared in a total of 15 games–a relatively light workload for someone that had been out of the game since last year. According to ESPNdeportes, there might have been an agreement between the Blue Jays and Guerrero where a decision on his big-league future would had to have been made by June 10, or one month from the date he signed his contract. That was extended when Guerrero got hit in the hand, which might have been his reason for comments like this one:
Would it have been a bad thing for Guerrero to log extra at-bats in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League while the Blue Jays completed their interleague schedule in NL parks? Not at all. Then, if he was still hitting when the Blue Jays rolled into Boston on the 25th, it could have been easier for him to force the Jays’ hand to make a move. Even in that scenario, though, a roster spot for Guerrero would have been far from guaranteed.
I, like many people, would have liked to see Guerrero join the Blue Jays, if for no other reason than because of closely watching him for so many years with the Expos. Considering that I’m in Las Vegas for the rest of the week to watch 51s games as well, surely I would have enjoyed seeing him with the team. But with Vlad’s refusal to log more time in the minors and demand a call-up instead, the Blue Jays were smart to cut ties with the former AL MVP and continue on with their season as originally planned.