Despite the fact that it looks like Josh Donaldson may be injured again, fans still shouldn’t expect a reactionary Vladimir Guerrero Jr promotion just yet.
As I write this I’m fully aware that it’s possible I could be wrong as soon as later today, but here goes anyway: I don’t think the Blue Jays are going to be calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this week, even if Josh Donaldson ultimately needs some time on the disabled list to get his aching body back in playing shape.
It stands to reason that a promotion could be expected, as both players are third baseman, and the way that Vlad Jr. has performed in Double-A has been the stuff of legends. The kid is putting up off the map type numbers, and it’s getting to the point where the Blue Jays will have no choice but to at least promote him to the next level at a minimum. He’s currently slashing .433/.481/.713 with 10 home runs, 50 RBI and 18 doubles in just 46 games.
And yet, the Blue Jays have shown a reluctance to move the teenager beyond where he’s currently dominating in New Hampshire, at least for now. As I said, it’s going to soon get to the point that he’ll force the organization’s hand to do something, but there are valid reasons for keeping him from the big leagues. They’ve been well documented and mostly focus on the defensive side of the ball, but sooner or later he’ll have to move beyond Double-A before the organization starts facing real criticism, or worse, frustration from the player and his agent. This is a relationship well worth protecting, especially at this early stage of his budding career.
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Beyond the Blue Jays wanting to develop his glove more before the highest level, and protecting service time of course, there are other valid reasons for holding back the 19 year old. The biggest of which is the roster space that would need to be created, and also a regular position in the lineup. When Donaldson is healthy he’s the regular third baseman, and with Justin Smoak at first base, that really leaves just designated hitter as an option. Kendrys Morales isn’t exactly a giant hurdle to overcome performance wise this year, but the nearly 20 million owed to him through the end of the 2019 season has proven to be a different story. That could change, but as of now he’s still on the roster and getting semi-regular playing time.
It also makes sense that the Blue Jays wouldn’t want to DH their young star at this stage of his development, as honing a well rounded game will be valuable throughout his career. It’s not that he couldn’t do that later, but when you have the first ever 80 hit tool player in your organization, you want to make sure every move and decision with him is carefully considered from any and all angles. There is still no guarantee that he’ll ultimately stick at third base at a pro, though he has performed pretty well this season and continues to work hard there in edition to his hitting prowess.
If he does end up at third when he gets the ultimate call-up, it will likely be after Donaldson has moved on to another team either through a trade or during the offseason as a free agent. Promoting this type of player shouldn’t be a temporary bandaid on an injury like what the “Bringer of Rain” is experiencing, as even in a worst case scenario Donaldson shouldn’t be out for the long term with his latest ailment. I’m not saying that the two couldn’t co-exist on the roster if the Blue Jays re-sign Donaldson either, but it would require one of the two changing positions.
For what it’s worth, Donaldson described his injury as minor when talking with Sportsnet after the game, saying that he ran gingerly in order to protect a more serious issue he felt developing, and hopes it’ll be a minimal problem with treatment in the coming days. We’ll see how true that ends up being, or if the 2015 AL MVP is just being optimistic about his problematic calves.
When it comes to Vlad Jr. though, don’t expect the Blue Jays to add him to the lineup just yet, even if it feels like now makes as much sense as ever. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it happen just like nearly all of you, but ultimately until something significant changes with the 25 man roster or a more serious injury happens, the budding star will remain in the minor leagues.
At least that’s what I’m expecting anyway, but in a world where Russell Martin is suddenly playing every position on the diamond, I wouldn’t be shocked if I’m dead wrong. And that would be just fine with me too.