Blue Jays designate Anthony Bass for assignment in wake of controversy

Anthony Bass was also performing poorly on the mound, posting a 4.95 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2023

The Toronto Blue Jays designated Anthony Bass for assignment Friday in the wake of the controversial reliever sharing anti-2SLGBTQ+ content on his Instagram account last month.

He will be removed from the team's active roster and 40-man roster. Within the next seven days, he will either be traded or put on irrevocable outright waivers. His time with the Blue Jays has come to an end.

Bass was scheduled to catch the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game against the Minnesota Twins as the Blue Jays begin their Pride Weekend festivities, but the team reversed course and instead opted to cut the 35-year-old loose.

The Blue Jays have parted ways with reliever Anthony Bass. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
The Blue Jays have parted ways with reliever Anthony Bass. (AP Photo/Scott Audette) (AP)

The team appeared to be attempting to rehabilitate the pitcher's image in the lead-up to its Pride Weekend celebration, as Bass met with Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste on Tuesday, and the first-pitch plan was announced Thursday afternoon.

When Bass spoke to the media Thursday, he made it clear that his views on the content he posted had not fundamentally changed, which meant his apology was solely related to how he used his platform as an athlete.

That might not have been enough to make a move in the Blue Jays' eyes. The order in which GM Ross Atkins and Bass spoke publicly Thursday might have affected the outcome in this case, as Atkins might've been surprised by the degree to which Bass stuck to his guns.

While the Blue Jays deserve credit for purging from their roster an individual clearly holding hateful views, the moral high ground might be elusive, considering they kept him for days after he shared material that referred to multiple companies' pro-2SLGBTQ+ initiatives as "evil" and "demonic."

When Atkins spoke to the media Friday, he presented the decision to cut Bass as primarily motivated by the team's desire to field the best possible team, with the concerns about the pitcher's actions playing a secondary role.

The Blue Jays had the opportunity to promptly DFA a player with minimal on-field value for that action. Instead, they let the situation fester for days, claiming that a curt, prepared apology that didn't acknowledge any fault in the content Bass shared was authentic.

Even on Friday, Atkins offered words of support around the right-hander's intentions.

Bass was in the midst of a forgettable season on the field that saw him post a 4.95 ERA in 20 innings and post a 0.0 fWAR — signifying that his performance matched that of a player who could be acquired for nothing but a minimum major-league salary.

Replacing Bass on the Blue Jays' roster is Mitch White, who was a candidate to earn a spot in the team's starting rotation before he dealt with a shoulder injury in spring training. The team has recently committed to using him exclusively as a reliever this season.

White has an 8.61 ERA in 23 Triple-A innings across multiple roles as he has worked his way back from his shoulder issue.