Report: Top MLB Prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to Miss 3 Weeks with Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2019

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Toronto Blue Jays star prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will reportedly miss three weeks with a Grade 1 left oblique strain, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

That may address the controversy over his service time, however. Per ESPN.com: "To retain team control of Guerrero for another year, the Jays would have had to keep him in the minors for 15 days to start the season. After he hit .381 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs while rocketing through four levels of minor league ball last year, there would have been many critics of the move."

Instead, his injury and corresponding rehabilitation assignment should cover those 15 days, or close to them, ending any debate about keeping Guerrero in the minors to start the 2019 season.

Guerrero, 19, has hit .211 with one RBI during spring training. It's obvious he'll be a part of the Blue Jays this season, though Toronto keeping him in the minors briefly to keep him under club control for an added year—in this case, through the 2025 season—hasn't sat well with everyone around baseball, much as it didn't when the Chicago Cubs took the same approach with Kris Bryant in 2015.

"It's something we are following, and it's going to be an issue," an anonymous member of the players association told Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun in late February. "Service-time manipulation has been a prominent theme that the players association has emphasized in its talks with Major League Baseball.

"It's fair to say it has been a prominent issue raised by the players association."

The team's general manager, Ross Atkins, has maintained that starting Guerrero in the minors would have been done for developmental purposes.

"We're just trying to maximize and do everything that we can to do what's best for him," Atkins said. "We genuinely feel it would be a disservice to the organization and to Vladdy if we weren't thinking about it that way, to maximize his full potential." 

This latest injury may make the entire debate moot, however.

Regardless of when Guerrero takes the diamond for the Blue Jays, he'll do so as the top prospect in all of baseball, per MLB.com. The second prospect on those rankings, San Diego's 20-year-old shortstop phenom, Fernando Tatis Jr., could be facing the same service-time situation as Guerrero would have before his injury.

So talented is Tatis that superstar Manny Machado will likely move back to third base this season to accommodate him. Despite that fact, he might also be subjected to starting the season in the minors.

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