The Toronto Blue Jays cut pitcher Anthony Bass, 35, on Friday, after he drew backlash and boos from fans for reposting a video on Instagram that called Target and Bud Light “evil” and “demonic” for being supportive of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
The Blue Jays announced on Friday that they had designated Bass for assignment, effectively cutting him from the team, just hours before he was set to catch a ceremonial first pitch to kick off the team’s Pride Weekend for a series against the Minnesota Twins.
Last month, Bass reposted a video on Instagram that called for boycotting both Target and Bud Light, which have recently drawn the ire of conservatives, Bud Light for featuring a transgender influencer in a social media promotion, and Target for promoting its Pride collection, which included clothes and books for children. The video, which came from a Bible-themed Instagram page, was briefly posted by Bass to his Instagram Story in late May.
After the post caused blowback, Bass told reporters that he apologized for sharing the post because it was “hurtful to the Pride community.” Bass said that he was going to work with the team to “make better decisions moving forward.”
“The ballpark is for everybody,” Bass said. “We include all fans at the ballpark, and we want to welcome everybody.”
The backlash toward Bass was the latest instance of a Major League Baseball team running into issues with the L.B.G.T.Q. community. Last month, the Los Angeles Dodgers were called out by some fans after the team, under pressure from Catholic critics, dropped the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from its Pride Night pregame ceremony. The Dodgers later backtracked on that decision after multiple L.G.B.T.Q. groups pulled out of the event.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays faced questions after the team allowed multiple players to opt out of wearing the team’s Pride Night uniforms.
The fallout in Toronto appeared to have settled down until Thursday when Bass, speaking to reporters, defended the message in the post he shared.
“I stand by my personal beliefs,” Bass told reporters. “And everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs, right? Also, I mean no harm towards any groups of people.”
When asked if he thought the post he shared was hateful, Bass said, “I do not.”
“That’s why I posted it originally,” Bass told reporters on Thursday. “When I look back at it, I can see how people would view it that way and that’s why I was apologetic.”
Toronto’s general manager, Ross Atkins, told reporters on Friday that the move to cut the relief pitcher was primarily driven by his performance this season.
In 22 games this season, Bass pitched 20 innings, with a lackluster earned run average of 4.95. In 2022, he recorded a 1.54 E.R.A. in 73 games, both career bests.
“There’s a myriad of variables, and performance is usually the driving one,” Atkins said. “Performance was a large aspect of this decision. Distraction was a small part of it, and something that we had to factor in.”
Since making his major league debut in 2011, Bass had bounced around from team to team. In 2016, he left M.L.B. to pitch professionally in Japan, before returning stateside.
By designating Bass for assignment, the Blue Jays now have seven days to trade him or place him on irrevocable outright waivers.