Blue Jays GM says there's 'no firm timeline' on calling up Vlad Guerrero Jr., baseball's top prospect

Not only is Vlad Guerrero Jr. the Toronto Blue Jays' best prospect, but he is an elite, generational-type hitter. Vlad Jr. -- the son of 2004 American League MVP and Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero -- has the chance to be Toronto's next franchise player, but it looks like he'll still be waiting for his call up to the majors once the 2019 season starts.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is still unwilling to declare Vlad Jr. big-league ready, and Atkins essentially denied the possibility of Guerrero Jr. being a part of Toronto's Opening Day roster.

"There's no firm timeline on when he arrives or when he is playing in Toronto for the first time," Atkins told Keegan Matheson of BaseballToronto.com on Thursday, "but we want to make sure he's the best possible third baseman and the best possible hitter he can be."

Guerrero is widely considered to be the top prospect in the minors, ranking No. 1 on the preseason lists of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and FanGraphs, among others.

The assumption from Atkins' comments is that the team clearly intends to manipulate Vlad Jr.'s service time, which would mean his MLB debut would not happen until mid-April. By keeping Vlad Jr. down in Triple-A, the Blue Jays will be able to push back his arbitration and free agency an entire year since he wouldn't be able to accrue a full year of service time in 2019.

In the meantime, the Blue Jays have Brandon Drury as their presumptive starting third baseman. Last season, Drury's campaign was marred by injury; he only played eight games for Toronto and 26 games total.

Guerrero hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 408 minor league plate appearances last year. He was left off from the Blue Jays' list of September call-ups. The subject of service time manipulation is an issue in MLB, with one recent example being when the Chicago Cubs held back Kris Bryant in Triple-A in early 2015.

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