Ezequiel Carrera has been a staple with the Toronto Blue Jays over the last three seasons. He appeared in 332 games over that span, the seventh-most of any Blue Jay. He accumulated 1.6 fWAR and posted a 95 wRC+, essentially performing as a league-average player. In 2016, Carrera’s fifth-inning single off Chris Tillman tied the wild-card game the Blue Jays eventually won in extra innings over the Baltimore Orioles. Carrera went on to start every game of Toronto’s run to the ALCS in left or right field, often batting leadoff. Carrera’s manager, John Gibbons, made no secret of his affinity for the left-handed hitter and the intangibles he brought, often referring to him as a “spark plug.” Carrera’s general manager, Ross Atkins, has known him since he was a minor-leaguer in Cleveland’s organization and signed him to a one-year, $1.9-million deal in January to avoid arbitration. Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro referred to Carrera last March as “a darling of the analytical world.” So, when the Blue Jays designated Carrera for assignment last weekend to make room on the 40-man roster for recently signed reliever Seung-hwan Oh, it caught the 30-year-old completely off guard. He’s still in Blue Jays camp as a non-roster invitee, after passing through waivers and being outrighted to triple-A Buffalo. But it’s been a stressful week. And Toronto’s decision still stings. “I’ll be honest, I was surprised,” Carrera said Sunday through Blue Jays interpreter Josue Peley. “I’m so surprised and so shocked, mostly because I think I’ve been doing a great job the past three years. And I think last year was one of my best.” It really was. Carrera appeared in 131 games, batting .282/.356/.408 over 325 plate appearances. He posted a 107 wRC+, the third-highest mark on the team. His 19 extra-base hits, .764 OPS, 9.2 per cent walk rate, and .125 isolated power were all career-highs. More than half of his 71 starts came in the top three spots in the Blue Jays batting order.