Blue Jays reportedly holding back pitchers from WBC qualifier


The Blue Jays are reportedly set to hold back Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez from joining Team Mexico for the WBC Qualifiers

A tweet from Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun on Thursday suggests that the Blue Jays will not be granting three of their Major League pitchers permission to pitch in their World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. Estrada, Osuna and Sanchez were expected to be key cogs in the Mexican roster.

It’s important to remain aware of the fact that these are just the qualifying rounds, not the WBC itself. John Gibbons made that mistake himself in late December while speaking with Jeff Blair on TheFan 590 (that’s right, Gibby didn’t know if it was a WBC year).

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Mexico’s qualifying division puts them up against the Czech Republic, Germany and Nicaragua, so it’s very unlikely that the absence of Toronto’s players will have much impact at all. Their round will be played in Mecicali from March 17th – 20th, which would have taken the players away from their Major League spring training duties.

The obvious concern here is fatigue and injury. Across all sports, these stand-alone international events can wreak havoc on a player’s value to their professional team, especially when it comes just two weeks before opening day.

In tournaments such as this one, it’s not uncommon to have a team going for broke and riding their hottest relief arms harder than you might see in a Major League season. While one start from Estrada would not be terribly worrying, Osuna trying to max out his velocity for his national team on consecutive nights isn’t something you want to see. Osuna did run into somewhat of a wall late in 2015, too, so any added innings in 2016 could begin to flirt with that same fate.

So all and all there isn’t a great deal to see here, but this is a wise baseball move by the Blue Jays front office. Sanchez and Osuna should be young enough, and Estrada should be recently-paid enough, to understand the situation from an organizational standpoint. And again: it’s only the qualifying round.