The New York Yankees somehow snuck past the Toronto Blue Jays in 2022, but with another year of growth and development under their belts (and an extra playoff spot up for grabs), it will be extremely difficult to see a world where these Jays don’t reach October.
That would make the Yankees’ 19 games against ’em this season of the utmost importance; New York will at least want to hold serve on the road and attempt to take advantage at Yankee Stadium.
Though pandemic restrictions are waning in America, significant Canadian health care measures were woven into the latest CBA, meaning unvaccinated players will not be able to travel to road games in Toronto.
They also will not be paid for those missed games.
If you recall, Canada’s public health measures have impacted Blue Jays baseball perhaps more than any other MLB team; the entire roster was exiled to both Buffalo and Florida during 2020 and the start of 2021.
In 2022, Toronto’s 26-man roster reportedly won’t be affected, and the team has already assessed and weeded out potential damage. Meanwhile, visiting teams like the Yankees could be experiencing a reverse Kyrie Irving situation.
Yankees couldn’t sign Andrelton Simmons after Canadian vaccine law
Any chance one of those teams that took “serious issue” with the matter was the, uh, Yankees?
It’s going to be extremely obvious very quickly which Bombers are currently unvaccinated. Due to context clues presented around the time of his positive test in 2021 and the time of his return, it seems likely Aaron Judge had not been immunized last summer. Whether that has changed could be anyone’s guess.
Equally importantly, though, this should alter the landscape of free agency. Why would the Yankees willingly import a player they were unfamiliar with who would be unable to participate in nine crucial games north of the border? Theoretically, any acquisition the Yankees make this offseason will be in an effort to differentiate themselves from the Jays, their closest competition in the standings. If said acquisition can’t play the Jays on the road, what’s the point?
This should, at the very least, have been the reason the team didn’t sign Andrelton Simmons as a stopgap shortstop option, considering he is proudly and unwaveringly unvaccinated. He’ll be a Cub instead, free to exist in the Senior Circuit with no risk of accidentally winding up in Canada.
The same goes for Anthony Rizzo, New York’s deadline import turned potential first base option for 2022. The team reportedly loves him, but … how much, exactly? Rizzo was unvaccinated when he arrived in New York, and certainly didn’t make as much of a scene as Simmons (he of the 56 OPS+), but he would also likely miss significant AL East road games.
There are millions of reasons not to sign the regressing Simmons, but even his advocates must admit this is a fairly good one.