Blue Jays’ president, Mark Shapiro, joined Sportsnet’s the Fan 590 on Saturday, and made some interesting comments about the future of Aaron Sanchez with the Blue Jays.
It’s funny how quickly things can change in the course of one year. This time last year, we were just learning that Aaron Sanchez would join the starting rotation for the 2016 season. Now, we’re talking about his free agency, which doesn’t take place until 2021.
That’s what happens when you lead the AL in ERA, are voted an All-Star, and finish 8th in Cy Young voting in your first full year as a starting pitcher. Blue Jays fans are already desperate to know they’ll have their new ace around for years to come, even if the issue isn’t even remotely pressing yet.
On Saturday, Blue Jays’ president, Mark Shapiro joined “The Jeff Blair Show” on Sportsnet’s the Fan 590, and discussed the somewhat controversial Sanchez situation that developed during camp this year. For those who may have missed it, the Blue Jays re-upped Sanchez for the MLB minimum salary, much to the chagrin of Sanchez’s super-agent, Scott Boras.
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Boras was upset at the time, and indicated that the Blue Jays were “too rigid” in their approach to their organizational assets, and how they handle their salary situations. Of course, Boras gets paid to make a case for his clients, so he has a natural, understandable bias for the situation.
When asked about the situation on Saturday, Shapiro’s comments were interesting to say the least, as he indicated that the Blue Jays eventually want to pay Aaron Sanchez “a lot of money”. For a young star who just received the MLB minimum of $535,000 for the upcoming season, those words might fall on deaf ears, at least for the time being.
"“Ross and I have told Aaron, Listen, we want to pay you a lot of money. We want to pay you more money. The more we pay you the better, because that means you’ve performed better.”"
We all know what Shapiro is saying here, and of course it makes perfect sense. Elite production eventually equates to an elite pay cheque, whether it’s with the Blue Jays or elsewhere. That much is obvious, and despite Shapiro’s attempts to paint the situation with a more positive brush, I think Sanchez and his agent can be forgiven if they’re rolling their eyes right now.
The Blue Jays have a long-standing policy of making an offer to pre-arbitration eligible players, and if that offer is rejected, then the minimum salary is put forward. It’s a bit of a power-play on the part of the Blue Jays, but something they’ve done with everyone who has come through their system, so it’s not being done specifically to Sanchez, or to his agent, Boras.
The argument could be made that the Blue Jays should be trying to lock up Sanchez for the long term, and perhaps that’s part of what the minimum contract was about. By showing the 24 year old who is in charge, at least for the next 4 years, it could put him in a position where he and Boras are more willing to “play ball” when it comes to long term negotiation. That hasn’t been Boras’ M.O. in the past, but each situation is unique, as evidenced by Stephen Strasburg re-signign with the Washington Nationals last year, despite being on the cusp of free agency.
For now, we’ll have to trust that Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins know what they’re doing, as this isn’t a situation that needs to be resolved right now. Soon enough the season will begin and Sanchez’s focus will be on the mound, where it should be.
Hopefully this conversation will be put to rest for now, at least until Boras gets a microphone next offseason. He doesn’t get paid the big bucks to stay quiet, especially with a client as talented as Aaron Sanchez.