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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ten Days of Takes: They won’t rush Bo and Vlad no matter how badly you want them to

In the ten days leading up to the season opener against the Yankees, your friends at BJN will be dropping a #take a day to get you pumped up for the season! Day five: Our Large Adult Sons — Bo Bichette and Vlady Guerrero Jr. 

We’ve enjoyed a glimpse into the future this spring.

Bo Bichette and Vlady Guerrero Jr. weren’t invited to big league camp, but that didn’t stop the Blue Jays from dangling their top two prospects in front of everybody. Bo and Vlad worked their way into a few games for the Jays over Spring Training and will make the trip to Montreal. The hype is incredibly real, but this front office isn’t going to rush into anything. 

How much did they impress? Well, Marcus Stroman said after Bo and Vlad smacked around the Canadian Junior National Team that he would happily take both Bo and Vlad on the Opening Day 25-man roster because they could help the team win right now.

There was never a chance Bo and Vlad were going to make the trip north with the Blue Jays. They weren’t invited to big league camp, like I said, and they aren’t currently on the 40-man roster. To have them crack the team would involve designating other players for assignment which, at this point, would be absurd. Both players only have a couple months of Single-A ball under their belt and while it’s fun to joke about them cracking the squad because they’re so fucking promising, we all know it isn’t going to happen.

But what about in September? We learned yesterday that Bo and Vlad will start the season at Double-A New Hampshire, which really isn’t all that far away from the big leagues.

Back in the Alex Anthopolous days, we saw players frequently rocket through the system. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. It worked with Roberto Osuna, who posted a 6.55 ERA in 22 innings with Dunedin in 2014 before rolling into camp and cracking the big league roster in 2015. He just skipped right over Double- and Triple-A and became one of the league’s better closers. It didn’t work with Dalton Pompey. He climbed all the way up from Single-A to Double-A to Triple-A and 2014 and then made the Jays in 2015 as the Opening Day centre fielder. He couldn’t hack it, went down, struggled mightily, and hasn’t been able to get back on track since.

I do believe that the organization plans for Bo and Vlad to be regulars on the team as early as 2019, but having them on the team in 2018 isn’t a part of that plan. No matter how hard they rip apart the minor leagues, the Jays won’t be starting the clocks of their two franchise prospects sooner than they have to.

This isn’t a perfect comparison, obviously, but I’ll go back to how Mark Shapiro handled key prospect Grady Sizemore back when he was with Cleveland. I know Sizemore wasn’t quite Vlad calibre, but still. He was one of the guys who came back in Bartolo Colon trade with the Montreal Expos. After being acquired, he spent all of his 20-year-old season in Double-A, where he produced an .853 OPS. He then spent half of his 21-year-old season in Triple-A before getting the call to the big leagues and rolling from there.

Bichette just turned 20 and Vlad just turned 19 in March. Occasionally you’ll see 19-year-olds break into the big leagues, but it isn’t very common. Ultimately, what you’re doing is starting a player’s free agency clock sooner than you probably have to. That’s what I imagine will be the biggest factor holding the Jays back from throwing Bo and Vlad into the deep end even if it could help the team.

Come September if the Jays are in a playoff race and both Bo and Vlad and mashing in Triple-A it’s going to be really, really hard to justify not bringing them up. But it also won’t be surprising. Anthopolous just had to come out and say that Ronald Acuna is going to start the season in the minors even though he might already be the best player on the Braves. He’ll say it’s about development, but it’s really about the free agency clock and service time. It was the same with Kris Bryant and the Cubs back in 2015, and, I would bet it’ll be the same for our Large Adult Sons too.

Bo and Vlad are major keys to the Blue Jays’ success over the next decade. Not only does the organization want to handle their development properly, they also want to ensure they can play for the team for the longest time possible at the cheapest price. It’s terrible, but that’s baseball.

  • ErnieWhitt

    I’d say service time is at least a bit of a factor, but honestly, as good as they have both been up to A ball, it would be incredibly irresponsible to bring a position player up from A ball to MLB without at least letting them get acclimatized to some sort of environment that could prepare them for MLB. Osuna is a different case, because he was already doing the exact thing they needed him to do to be successful – which is throw 97 for one inning at a time. Even then – it may have been a bad call even though it has worked out so well. If Osuna experiences a long term dip in velo it may have been more prudent to give him some time in AA/AAA to fully develop as a starter where 92-95 would still be more than sufficient vs trying to close. Who knows what development was stunted by jumping him straight to the big leagues. I’m not really complaining (because its been awesome to watch) but Osuna is also a perfect example of a guy who is 23 and is already being paid $5.3M. Not saying I would change anything now, but they’re paying now in arbitration for having him up early.

    • justaregularjaysfan

      Arbitration is not the issue. A closer with his performance at 23 or 28 is going to get the same amount of money. Age is not a factor there. It is a factor whan you have to sign a 26 year old in free agency though and thats the part where it gets really expensive

      • ErnieWhitt

        The fact he’s in arbitration is directly related to the fact he was called up so early. If they had kept him down he wouldn’t be making 5.3M this season. His pay is related to where he is in arbitration and his performance. Yes he was going to get paid it was only a question of which years you pay for. I’m not even saying they made a mistake. Simply pointing out that they risked the situation where they control him in age 27 season or not.

  • Chappy

    Glad you came out and said, its all about service time for sure. Yes they may not be ready, but if it wasn’t for the service time issue there is a good chance we would see the admin. roll the dice and see how these guys do earlier than normal, but service time is the issue so its all about judging the best time to bring them up so they have the greatest number of productive years for the least amount of money. Thats all this is really about. Bichettes numbers are actually a bit better than Trouts at this point and Trout never had any difficulty coming up as a teenager.

  • dolsh

    Well…I just drafted Bichette for my fantasy team, so I’m biased about when I’d like to see him. I’m still sure betting that JD is traded and a Vlad-sized hole is opened up for a September call up this year. It’ll be positioned as “getting used to the bigs” kinda like Delgado’s first call up.