Scenario #1- Chavez Named 5th Starter
Although I see this as the least likely scenario, the Blue Jays traded a valuable bullpen piece in Liam Hendriks in order to bring in Chavez and lengthen the starting depth.
As mentioned above, Chavez has been a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde arm in the last couple of seasons, pitching above average in the first half of the season before fading down the stretch.
In 2014, the depth in the A’s rotation allowed him to step into the bullpen for the second half and reduce the damage, and perhaps the Jays could look to use him in a similar way.
There has been an argument for using Chavez as the #5 starter in the first half, and transitioning Sanchez into the rotation in the second half, but that comes with an awful lot of variables in order to work seamlessly. As it stands, having Chavez in the rotation would push Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, and likely sees Drew Hutchison starting the year in triple-A Buffalo.
Scenario #2- Hutchison Named 5th Starter
This option allows for the most big league depth, and may be the scenario that the Blue Jays brass is cheering for the most. Having Hutchison in the rotation not only means that he’s ready to contribute, but it also allows for much greater depth in the bullpen.
In this scenario, both Aaron Sanchez and Jesse Chavez would join Storen, Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Loup, etc, and significantly strengthen the back end. Chavez would pitch in the long relief role (where he could be best suited anyway), and would be available to join the rotation in the event of an injury like Marco Estrada’s role beginning 2015.
While this scenario provides the greatest big league depth scenario, Hutchison is also likely the least reliable candidate at this stage. That can change in a hurry though, and whether he starts the season in the rotation, in the bullpen or in triple-A, Hutchison will end up being an important part of whether the Jays flourish or succeed in 2016.
Next: What happens if Sanchez claims the job this spring?