Realist – Patrick Allen
Everything you need to know about Aaron Sanchez’s future can be summed up with one name, Scott Boras. Sanchez signed with Boras’ agency group, the Boras Corporation, this offseason after previously being represented by the Legacy Agency. If you’re unfamiliar with the Boras Corporation, their clients were the first players in baseball history to have contracts exceeding the $50 million, $100 million, and $200 million plateau. To put it simply, you sign with Boras to maximize your earning potential.
In his first season as a starter, Sanchez led the American League with 3.00 ERA and finished seventh in AL Cy Young voting. Considering his stellar 2016 numbers, there was controversy this offseason when the Blue Jays extended Sanchez’s contract to the league minimum after he declined a slight pay increase. For the most part, the whole controversy was largely overblown.
The important thing to know regarding Sanchez’s future is that he is under club control for the next four seasons. He is eligible for salary arbitration in 2018, where he should receive a well-deserved pay increase, and becomes eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
This last figure is the most important, given the fact that Boras’ clients almost always head to market to maximize their value. It is worth noting, however, that last season Stephen Strasburg broke the mold, so to speak, for clients of Boras when he signed a seven-year, $175-million contract extension with the Nationals only months before he would have been eligible to hit the open market.
Verdict: Despite the Strasburg example, it still remains more than likely that Sanchez will hit free agency in 2021, especially if he continues to produce at a rate similar to his 2016 numbers. Though this may seem like a grim outlook, it’s really not.
Sanchez has every right to pursue his market value. If he is commanding top of the rotation dollars in 2021, it will be because he successfully built on his strong 2016 campaign and had four more stellar seasons pitching atop the Blue Jays rotation. Toronto is built to win right now; fans should enjoy the ride and not concern themselves with hypotheticals far down the line.