The Toronto Blue Jays' move to designate right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass for assignment on Friday was largely due to his on-field performance while "distraction" did factor into the decision, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.
Toronto announced the move just hours before Friday night's game against the Minnesota Twins and the start of their Pride Weekend celebration.
The 35-year-old pitcher faced fierce backlash last week after sharing a social media video encouraging Christians to join boycotts against Target and Bud Light.
Atkins told reporters on Friday that "distraction" had played a role in Bass being DFA’d, though his on-the-field performance had been the driving factor.
"There’s a myriad of variables," Atkins said before Friday's game. "Performance is usually the driving one, and performance was a large aspect of this decision. Distraction was a small part of it and something we had to factor in."
When asked whether Bass would still be on the team if his performance during the 2023 season had been better, Atkins refused to say.
"We’re trying to build the best possible team we can build," Atkins said. "This was a baseball decision to make our team better."
Bass had a 4.95 ERA in 20 innings for Toronto this season.
The decision to remove Bass from the active roster came a day after reports said he would catch the ceremonial first pitch from activist leZlie Lee Kam ahead of Friday’s game, which begins Toronto’s fourth annual Pride Weekend celebration.
It also follows the controversy surrounding Bass sharing a video to his Instagram Stories last week from a creator named Ryan Miller, who called on Christians to join the boycotts against Bud Light and Target.
In the video, Miller read a Biblical verse and claimed that supporting those businesses results in taking "part in the darkness that they’re purveying" and "shoving into children’s faces."
Bass apologized last week for the post that he said had been "hurtful to the Pride community."
Bass then told reporters on Thursday that he had shared the video because it "reflected my (Christian) beliefs" and that he didn’t view it as hateful.
"That’s why I posted it originally. When I look back at it, I could see how people can view it that way. And that’s why I was apologetic."
Bass called the video a "distraction" before saying he stood by his "personal beliefs."
"The video itself, obviously, I took it down," Bass said, according to The Athletic. "I just felt like it was too much of a distraction, right? But I stand by my personal beliefs and everyone’s entitled to their personal beliefs, right? But also I mean no harm toward any groups of people. And I felt like taking that down the second time was the right thing to do and not being a distraction. As a team, our job is to win baseball games. And that’s my focus."
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj and The Associated Press contributed to this report.