While the Los Angeles Dodgers took care of business in the opener of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friday additionally marked the long-anticipated MLB debut of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
In front of a jam-packed Rogers Centre, Guerrero collected his first career MLB hit — a double — in what amounted to a 4-2 Blue Jays victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Since making his professional debut in 2016, Guerrero has taken baseball by storm with his incredible hitting instincts. To no surprise, he has drawn many comparisons to his Hall-of-Fame father by the same name, who was in attendance for his debut on Friday.
Former Blue Jays catcher and current Dodgers backstop Russell Martin spoke about Guerrero’s talent and opined that he should have made his MLB debut a year sooner, per Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“They can say whatever they want,” Martin said. “They try to make smart decisions. Whether they want to admit it or not, it is a business move, right? Whether we criticize it or not, they have a purpose to what they do.”
“Do I like it? No,” Martin said. “But I understand it. If somebody is good enough to play, they should play,” Martin said. “The business side gets in the way of that sometimes.”
Martin, who spent the previous four seasons with the Blue Jays prior to being reacquired by the Dodgers over the winter, believes his former club held Guerrero back for business purposes.
By delaying his MLB debut, the Blue Jays obtained an extra year of control over Guerrero, who is now scheduled to become a free agent after the 2025 season.
Such a decision contrasts from the San Diego Padres and New York Mets, who opted to include respective top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Peter Alonso on their Opening Day rosters this season.
With Guerrero now in the fold, it will be interesting to see how much his presence changes the dynamic of the Blue Jays. Entering Saturday, the club found itself in third place in the American League East with a 12-14 record and 4.5 games out of first place.