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International MLB Player of the Week – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 29th, 2024 9:28am EDT

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays prepares to bat for a second time in the first inning during a game against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on June 27, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Like his father, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has played the early years of his Major League career in Canada.

But unlike his father, Guerrero Jr. hasn’t toiled in obscurity with a franchise being run into the ground. From 1996, when the elder Guerrero made his MLB debut with the Montreal Expos, through the 2003 season, his last in Montreal before leaving for free agency, Guerrero Sr.’s teams finished over .500 twice, by a total of eight games, and never made the playoffs.

But for Vlad Jr., it’s been a different story 300 miles south on Highway 401. The younger Guerrero has been a big part of Blue Jays teams that have made it to the postseason three times in his first six seasons and only finished below .500 once.

And this week? Guerrero has been stellar at the plate for the Jays, who are trying to climb back up the AL East standings, going 11-for-28 with four doubles, four homers, 13 RBI, and a 1.378 OPS in seven games, which earned him World Baseball Network‘s International MLB Player of the Week Honors.

Guerrero Jr., born in Montreal but plays for the Dominican Republic in international competition, is eligible for salary arbitration once more after his one-year, $19.9 million contract expires at the end of the season. Could a long-term deal be reached to keep Guerrero in Toronto?

It’s hard to say. At 37-44, the Blue Jays are 14.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees for first place. They’re 7.5 games out of a wild card spot. And while the latter is a more surmountable obstacle, you probably shouldn’t bet the farm on the Jays playing in the 2024 postseason.

Unlike his father, who played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues before getting a taste of the playoffs, Guerrero Jr.’s appetite has been whetted.

During the coming off-season, Guerrero Jr. will, once again, go through the arbitration process to determine how much the Blue Jays will pay him for the 2025 season. It’ll be the fourth time Guerrero Jr. will have been forced to square off with Jays management in what is a highly adversarial process: the player makes his case why he should get $X million for the coming season, and his team’s management lists all the reasons he isn’t worth that much.

Imagine negotiating a long-term salary with an employer who annually lists the reasons you’re not good at your job.

In 2022, Guerrero Jr. said that he’d “never sign” with the New York Yankees, an organization that is among MLB’s biggest spenders, an organization that could sign him to a long-term deal for a very, very nice salary.

This week, asked about the possibility of going to New York by Virus Deportivo of the Dominican Republic while on the road in Boston, Guerrero said, ” I sat down and spoke with my dad [Vladimir Guerrero Sr.] and my family, and this is a business. And I said I would never again talk about this topic and lots of people have asked me about it.”

Guerrero, acknowledging the reality of modern baseball, continued saying, I’m a player and if a team picks me or if they do something, it’s because they need it, obviously, and I’ll be happy to help any team. But right now, I’m just focused on helping my team try to get out of this bad streak.”

His bat can only help so much.

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network