Pessimist – Jason Lee
The largest contract in Blue Jays history was given to Vernon Wells in 2006, a 7 year/$126 million dollar deal carrying an average annual value of $18 million. If Aaron Sanchez continues to post the numbers he did in 2016, his breakout year, then the Blue Jays would have to shatter that figure in order to re-sign one of the game’s brightest young stars.
Sanchez projects to become a free agent in 2021 at the age of 29, an optimal age for a free agent starter. With Scott Boras at the helm of negotiations, it is hard to imagine Sanchez settling for anything less than a $25 million average annual value, considering the recent contracts of Boras’ top pitcher clients:
Max Scherzer – 7 year/$210 mil (aav of $30 mil/year)
Stephen Strasburg – 7 year/$175 mil (aav of $25 mil/year)
A realistic expectation for an Aaron Sanchez contract extension (after arbitration) should be closer to Stephen Strasburg’s figures rather than Max Scherzer due to Sanchez’s limited track record and model of consistency.
However, the 2015 MLB offseason suggests that the new Blue Jays regime will not extend that type of offer to Aaron Sanchez, as they opted to sign Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ in favor of a bona fide ace in David Price (although that decision has so far proven to work in favor of the Jays). This year’s offseason further solidifies the belief that the Blue Jays will try and maintain their rational, business approach to free agency, as they kept emotions out of a potential Edwin Encarnacion extension.
Verdict: Unless the Blue Jays suddenly decide to abandon a long-standing free agent policy or believe that Aaron Sanchez is a unique, franchise player that will have success through his mid-30s, it is hard to envision the beloved right-hander in a Blue Jays uniform past 2021.
Scott Boras will continue to make a public show about negative negotiations with the Blue Jays, and the front office will trade Sanchez in 2019 to boost a rebuild that will start when Josh Donaldson leaves town to cap off a franchise changing year, reminiscent of Mark Shapiro’s Cleveland Indians rebuild.