Blue Jays: Enough with former Jays playing in the AL East already

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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With evin Pillar signing in Boston this week, an annoying trend continues of former Blue Jays going on to play for other teams in the AL East division.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big-time homer, and I get pretty attached to players as they play for my beloved Blue Jays. It bummed me out to see Justin Smoak sign in Milwaukee, and I was unreasonably disappointed when Edwin Encarnacion signed in Chicago, let alone when he left for Cleveland after the 2016 campaign.

And as much as I dislike seeing these guys leave the Blue Jays, I’m really not fond of it when they head to a rival in the AL East, and suddenly I have to cheer against them.

The latest example was Kevin Pillar reportedly signing a one-year, four million dollar pact to join the Boston Red Sox this season after nearly a year spent in the National League playing with the San Francisco Giants. As a free agent this winter, Pillar found the market fairly tepid, but the Red Sox swooped in with a late offer to come back to the division he knows all too well. Personally, I’m not looking forward to the sight of him in a Red Sox jersey.

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Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it’s becoming a weird little trend to see former Blue Jays playing for another team in the East after their time in Toronto is over. Last year we had to watch guys like Encarnacion, J.A. Happ, and Gio Urshela with the Yankees, the latter of whom broke out with an All-Star level performance after the Blue Jays let him go for nothing the year before (who saw that coming though, to be fair). For a few weeks it looked like Troy Tulowitzki might even prove the Blue Jays wrong in New York for cutting him loose as well, but eventually he was forced to retire with chronic injuries.

It wasn’t much fun watching Steve Pearce star with the Red Sox during their 2018 World Series run, nor was it all that pleasant to see David Price leave Toronto for the division rival, even if neither team wants that contract on their books now. The Red Sox haven’t been a major culprit of this, but it was strange seeing others like Rajai Davis (2017), and even Aaron Hill (2016) in Boston as well. I won’t miss watching Eric Sogard play for the Tampa Bay Rays either.

The biggest culprit of this trend would be the Baltimore Orioles, who seem to be keeping an eye on the Blue Jays over the last few seasons. They claimed Richard Urena off of waivers this off-season, just as they did with Dwight Smith Jr. last winter. They also employ former Blue Jays’ prospects Miguel Castro and Asher Wojciechowski, and they’ve also rostered others like Colby Rasmus over the last few seasons as well. Don’t put it past them to be watching Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office’s moves over the next few weeks either.

I realize it’s not an overwhelming amount by any means, but I never like seeing former Blue Jays playing for “the enemy”, especially when they blossom like Urshela did in New York, continue to dominate late in their career like Encarnacion, or get stolen away like Price to Boston. Maybe I’m still dealing with the frustration of watching Roger Clemens win back to back Cy Young awards as a Blue Jay and then request a trade to the Yankees. It didn’t help that Marcus Stroman wanted to go there last year either, and I’m thankful that never came to fruition.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Pillar land a big league contract for the 2020 season, but all I’m saying is I was much happier with him in San Fran.

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