Blue Jays: Former Jays find new homes in the AL East

Two former members of the Blue Jays organization found new homes in the AL East, with Richard Urena being claimed by Baltimore, and Cal Stevenson traded to Tampa Bay.

Around this time of the year, MLB general managers have the difficult task of managing their 40-man rosters. Sometimes it results it good players being lost to another organization, and every now and then it can bite you in the rear end, like, Gio Urshela‘s unexpected emergence with the Yankees last year after the Blue Jays had to move him to make roster space.

Misevaluating a player can be costly, and it’s an especially difficult pill to swallow when your former players land in the AL East with a division rival. That’s what happened with Urshela last year, and to a much lesser extend with Dwight Smith Jr. playing pretty well in Baltimore before he was injured.

Late this week the Blue Jays saw two more former players from their organization join division rivals, and while I would never wish ill on either of them, I can’t help but wish they’d each ended up elsewhere, but that’s completely out of the Blue Jays’ control.

The first was Cal Stevenson, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, making it the second time he’s been swapped in six months. He was part of the trade that brought Derek Fisher to Toronto, and returned Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, and Stevenson to the Houston Astros last July, just ahead of the trade deadline. Stevenson was formerly a top 30 prospect with the Blue Jays, and is probably at least a few years away from the highest level, if he makes it that far. However, joining the Rays’ minor league development train can’t be bad for him, as it seems like they repeatedly churn out quality prospects, year after year.

The second transaction of the day saw Richard Urena being claimed by the Baltimore Orioles, and the middle infielder probably has a shot to stick with his new club when the 2020 season begins. If he can make their big league club, he’ll likely serve as a utility man, as the Orioles also signed Jose Iglesias this week, presumably to take over as the everyday shortstop. With Hanser Alberto coming off a strong 2019 campaign, he’ll likely be the second baseman.

Still, a lot can change, especially playing behind someone with a shaky injury history like Iglesias. and Baltimore should be a good place for Urena to get a MLB opportunity. The Orioles don’t have a lot of strong MLB-ready options in their middle infield, and Urena could work well as a back-up. Who knows, if he plays well enough he could even push Rio Ruiz for a few starts at third base as well.

While I cringe any time I see a former Blue Jay sign with an AL East rival, in this case I’m not too worried about. Urena likely could have done a suitable job as the utility man in Toronto in 2020 (they still need one, by the way), but I’m also happy for him that he’ll get more of an opportunity in Baltimore than he would have in Toronto. The Blue Jays are projected to start Bo Bichette at shortstop, Cavan Biggio at second base, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at third, so there wouldn’t have been a lot of playing time available.

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As I said, I’ll never wish ill on a former Blue Jay with a new team, and I genuinely send my best wishes to both Urena and Stevenson as they join their new teams. I just hope they play terribly any time they square off against their old team, that’s all.

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