Veteran shortstop Freddy Galvis is on his way to Cincinnati, paving the way for the three young stars on the Toronto Blue Jays to take over the franchise.
The Toronto Blue Jays roster is quickly being transformed into what can more aptly be called the “Junior Jays.”
With the departure of Freddy Galvis on Monday, claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds, the Blue Jays are putting all their trust into a young core of up-and-coming stars that figure to be at the forefront of the club for years to come.
Galvis, an eight-year veteran who is still just 29 years old but was among the closest thing the Blue Jays had to a veteran, hit .267 with 18 home runs and 54 RBI in 115 games in Toronto this season. But perhaps his most important contribution to the club came from his role as clubhouse mentor to the rookies the rebuilding Blue Jays have put into their lineup.
Chief among them is the player who will take Galvis’ spot at shortstop. Bo Bichette had to wait until July 29 to make his debut but wasted no time making an impact. Within his first 11 games, he set the Major League record with a double in nine straight games and became the first rookie since Ted Williams to have an extra-base hit in that same number of games.
Then there’s Bichette’s partner on the left side of the Blue Jays infield, third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero got off to a slow start after a well-publicized debut on April 26 but has recently shown signs of becoming the impact player he was projected to be. Since July 20, he ranks second in baseball with 24 RBI and is 12th in OPS. He’s also cut his strikeout rate down by nearly three percentage points, from 18.1 percent to 15.5 percent. Both Guerrero and Bichette rank inside the top-15 in batting average since Bichette’s debut.
The loss of Galvis means the Blue Jays are going to rely on a young infield consisting of Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio at second. Biggio hasn’t made quite the impact has his fellow rookies, but he’s still drawn 43 walks in his first 63 games, fourth among rookies despite not making his debut until late May. His 16.7 percent walk rate leads all rookies and would be sixth in the league if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
A moment that showed these kids aren’t fazed by having the expectations of a franchise placed on them came on Sunday. With the Blue Jays trailing the New York Yankees 1-0, the Yankees brought in closer Aroldis Chapman for the bottom of the ninth inning. After Brandon Drury led off the inning with a single, Guerrero came in to pinch-hit, representing the winning run. He quickly fell behind 0-2 but then fouled off seven pitches from the hard-throwing left-hander, getting the count to 3-2. Finally, on the 13th pitch of the at-bat, Guerrero grounded into a double play but still got a standing ovation from the crowd of nearly 28,000 at Rogers Centre.
Next up was Bichette, who also got down 0-2 before working the count back to 3-2 and hitting a single on the eighth pitch. Now with the tying run on-base, Biggio worked Chapman to a 3-2 count before striking out to end the game. Although the Blue Jays lost the game, it was a tremendous effort from three young players facing arguably the most intimidating pitcher in the game. Chapman needed 27 pitches to get through three batters who combined have only 165 games of big league experience.
The Blue Jays have won nine of the 14 games they’ve played since calling up Bichette and have hit 31 home runs in that span, second in the league behind only the Yankees. They’re also fourth in runs scored behind three teams — the Houston Astros, Yankees and Atlanta Braves — who currently lead their division.
This club isn’t on that level yet, but if these young stars continue to develop the future looks bright in Toronto. And with Galvis now gone, they’re going to get all the opportunity they need to do just that.