Alex Anthopoulos: Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez could remain in bullpen


In an ideal world, top prospect Aaron Sanchez would start the 2015 season as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation. That’s where both his future and his talent level say he belongs long-term. Things just don’t always play out ideally.

According to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has indicated that there is still a possibility that Sanchez is used out of the bullpen next season.

Just a week ago, the Blue Jays seemingly made room in the rotation for Sanchez, when they dealt roadblock J.A. Happ to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Michael Saunders. However, in the week that has followed the relief market has taken a big hit, with Andrew Miller, David Robertson, Pat Nechek, and Luke Gregerson all signing contracts that are absurdly heavy for relief arms, either in dollars, years, or both. That has left the Blue Jays in a position where they either need to overpay for relief help or utilize the trade market, which could also mean an overpay in prospects.

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The Blue Jays face an uphill battle in not only filling a hole in their bullpen, but also seemingly rebuilding it around Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup. While Cecil would be a candidate to step into the closer role next season, he is hardly a  lock for the job. With the Blue Jays seemingly unable to find a piece they desire, or at a price they are comfortable paying, Anthopoulos seems to at least be entertaining the option of keeping Sanchez in the bullpen next season. The price is certainly much more comfortable.

It also may be a winning decison, at least for 2015.

After making his major league debut in relief on July 23rd, Aaron Sanchez was a stalwart in the bullpen down the stretch for the Blue Jays. He made 24 appearances, going multiple innings in 10 of them. Additionally, John Gibbons felt more than comfortable giving Sanchez save opportunities down the stretch, with the rookie accumulating 3 in the final month of the season.

Overall, Sanchez was stellar in relief, posting a 1.09 ERA, a 2.80 FIP, a 84.1% LOB rate, and a 65.9% GB rate. Additionally, his control was much better, with Sanchez seeing his walk-rates drop from 4.46/9 as a starter in the minors to 2.45/9 as a reliever in the Major Leagues. Coupled with a solid 7.36 K/9 ratio, and Sanchez had a recipe for success.

That all said, and I believe I did in the first sentence of the piece, Aaron Sanchez’ s future is in the rotation and any move to the bullpen would be temporary at best. However, with Daniel Norris on the cusp of the Major Leagues, and the Blue Jays still capable of adding a starter this winter, the Blue Jays have some flexibility there as well.

It just comes down to how they can execute their bullpen plans this winter.