Aaron Sanchez had to be removed from last night’s game with a developing blister issue. Those blisters have and will cost Sanchez and the Blue Jays dearly.
One of the more maddening injuries in professional baseball is when a pitcher gets a blister on their throwing hand. It seems like an insignificant problem, but for a professional hurler with the smallest of margins for error, it’s a very big deal.
This has been the story of Aaron Sanchez‘s career as a baseball player for the last several years. He missed all but eight starts in 2017, and was limited to 20 starts last year, covering just 105 innings. So far this season Sanchez had made 10 starts, mostly looking strong and healthy so far in 2019.
The truly frustrating thing about Sanchez is that we know he has the potential to be among the best starters in the American League when he’s healthy. He won the ERA title back in 2016 with a mark of 3.00, and it’s not hard to see the talent when he’s on the mound. The problem, of course, is that Sanchez hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to get in that kind of groove since, much to both his frustration and to the chagrin of Blue Jay fans everywhere.
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It’s hard to say at this point how serious the latest blister issue may turn out to be, but it got me thinking about how it has and will affect his future in the big leagues. For example, right now the Blue Jays have to be weighing whether to offer both him and Marcus Stroman any additional years to their current contracts, as they’re both set to hit free agency after the 2020 season, and the franchise has very little money committed to the future at this point. It remains to be seen how much Sanchez could command in an extension or as a free agent, but good pitching is hard to find.
The thing is though, can you rely on Sanchez to stay healthy? I don’t know that you can, even if the latest blip on his radar turns out to be a minor one.
The former first-round pick has had multiple surgeries, spent extended amounts of time babying the finger to the point where he barely uses it for anything in day to day life, and has tried every treatment imaginable. It’s not for a lack of trying on Sanchez’s part or on the coaching staff, but it’s an issue that just won’t go away.
For the Blue Jays, they’ll have to decide whether or not they’re willing to risk his next contract on that troublesome pitching hand. However, even if they decide they aren’t interested in a long-term commitment, they have to be disappointed with what could have just happened to Sanchez’s trade value as well.
If he pitches from opening day until the trade deadline as a healthy starter, that completely changes his trade value from the start of the year. That said, a return to blister issues may knock him right back where he started, or worse, may have lowered the trade return potential even more.
For the player, the next season and a half couldn’t be more importan for his future earning potential. At his best I’m willing to be he could have been a nine-figure free agent. Right now it might be hard to secure a multi-year deal if this is another serious blister issue.
It may seem like a minor problem, but unfortunately a blister can change everything for a MLB pitcher, especially when it just won’t go away for good.