How Does Orelvis Martinez’s Suspension Affect the Blue Jays?

Blue Jays top prospect Orelvis Martinez hits the restricted list, another blow to a team that continues to struggle in June.

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 21: Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Orelvis Martinez (13) at bat during the third inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Guardians on June 21, 2024, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Almost as soon as Toronto Blue Jays prospect Orelvis Martinez was calling himself a big leaguer, the Dominican product was heading to the sidelines.

Called up to the active roster over a week ago when Bo Bichette landed on the injured list, Martinez suited up in just one game for Toronto – playing second base and going 1-for-3 in his debut, a single up the middle off veteran Guardians right-hander Carlos Carrasco.

Fast forward to this past Sunday and the righty batter was heading to the suspension list, with Major League Baseball announcing that he’d been suspended 80 games for performance-enhancing drug use, with the infielder later claiming the substance was present in fertility treatments he was receiving in the offseason.

It’s a major faux pas for a professional baseball player if the story rings true, considering the drug tests and numerous resources at Martinez’s disposal to ensure this type of situation can be avoided. Overall, the consequences are what they are and the top position prospect for the Blue Jays won’t be eligible to return until late September.

Ad – content continues below

Blue Jays Prospect Orelvis Martinez Hits Restricted List

This is another blow to a Blue Jays squad that can only sum up their season as a major disappointment, as the club sits well below .500 and has not found any consistency as a whole since Opening Day. The club owns one of the league’s worst bullpens, sporting a 4.55 ERA heading into Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox, while the bats haven’t been any better. Numerous regular roster players are performing well under expectations, including outfielder George Springer who boasts the second-worst OPS amongst qualified players with a .581 mark.

In a stacked AL East division, there is hardly any margin for error and considering the Blue Jays are trending in the wrong direction as the trade deadline grows near, there is growing suspicion that the club will be more sellers than buyers this year.

So, how does the Martinez suspension play into matters?

As of right now, the Blue Jays roster consists of a lot of players who started the year in Buffalo or were in Triple-A for a significant portion of last season – Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, Spencer Horwitz, and Addison Barger standing out. While the Jays started with Daniel Vogelbach, Cavan Biggio, and Santiago Espinal were Jays to start Opening Day, all three have either been released or traded, opening space on the roster for prospects to get their feet wet at the big league level.

The injury to Bichette opened up a spot for Martinez, who seemingly was looking to make the jump from Buffalo to Toronto and try to edge out one of the other prospects or potentially a slumping veteran in an effort to remain with the roster for the long term. The right-handed batter was a powerhouse in Buffalo, authoring a .260/.343/.523 slash line with a .866 OPS and an organization-leading 16 home runs. Even with the recent suspension, power has not been a problem for the 22-year-old, who has owned 109 round trippers since 2019.

For a Blue Jays squad struggling to produce at the plate and with a noticeable decline in power, a bat like Martinez was just what the club was looking for to potentially drum up some offence and put some higher crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Similar to last year, the promotion of Schneider in early August was a major boost for the Jays squad, with the New Jersey product putting the ball in play at a record pace while showcasing his power on occasion in numerous clutch situations. Martinez put himself in a position to potentially follow suit but now sits on the sidelines.

Ad – content continues below

Missing Out on Opportunities

Should the club continue to decline and continue moving pieces towards the deadline, such as Danny Jansen, Justin Turner, and Kevin Kiermaier, playing time will be available for those on the bench and Martinez will now miss out on a golden opportunity to showcase his talents before the offseason.

With Schneider and Horwitz both able to play second and Barger able to play third, there appeared to be ample opportunities for Martinez to wiggle his way into the lineup had he avoided the suspension. Martinez likely would have been able to play second and third while also slotting in at DH from time to time but now he’s missing out on those opportunities. Considering the Jays have used numerous players on the right side of second base, Martinez was likely going to be given a shot to contend for the position.

For a team that has been nothing short of a comedy of errors on both sides of the ball, the suspension of Martinez is the icing on a cake that nobody ordered North of the border. With the team in a flummox and teeter-tottering between buying and selling while currently on a losing streak, a top prospect on the restricted list hurts both the player and team, with the only winners being those taking advantage of the Blue Jays in the AL East to pad their records.