Sad news out of the Dominican Press tonight, reporting that longtime Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez has passed away after a long battle with polycystic kidney disease and complications from a stroke.
Debuting in the Major Leagues in 1983 at 21 years old south of the border, Fernandez was a quality ballplayer for a long time. Over 17 seasons, he had 2,276 hits, a 45.5 WAR, 246 SB, 844 RBI and 94 homeruns. The 5x All Star won 4 gold gloves, playing primarily shortstop but also seeing time at 2nd and 3rd base. He was traded to the Padres right before the 1991 season for slugging 1st baseman Fred McGriff, who should be in the Hall of Fame, that led to a Jays title in 1992. Fernandez returned to Toronto in 1993 and played a pivotal role in the Jays repeating as World Champions following a trade from the NY Mets. He had an .803 OPS for the Jays in 94 games. He moved around the league a bit, but had two more stints with the Blue Jays and eventually entering their Level of Excellence. He hit .327 lifetime in the postseason between the Blue Jays, Yankees and Indians (including a World Series appearance in 1997). He also played for the Reds and Brewers.
It was first reported that Fernandez was in critical condition two weeks ago.