The discussion about Aaron Sanchez on social media yesterday was whether or not the Blue Jays should demote him. I think that’s a very bad idea, and here’s why.
Despite having to leave a couple of starts early, health hasn’t really been the problem for Sanchez this season. The 2017 and 2018 seasons brought about repeated trips to the Injured List for the now 26-year-old, and many of us believed that if he could ever stay healthy that he would eventually get back to the pitcher that won the 2016 American League ERA crown. Unfortunately that has yet to happen, and it’s getting hard to see that it ever will.
There have been rumblings on social media from the fan base for weeks that the Blue Jays should either move Sanchez to the bullpen, or even send him back to Triple-A. That was mostly just fans griping, but the idea was presented by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who added an important factor of consideration.
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The Blue Jays could still theoretically send Sanchez down without risking losing him on the waiver wire, and in fact, could theoretically gain another season of control if they make that decision in the next day or two. Rosenthal correctly pointed out that Sanchez doesn’t get an official say in the matter as of now, but after this coming Sunday he will have accumulated five years of MLB service time, and would have the right to reject being assigned to Triple-A.
His performance this season would certainly warrant such a decision, and I’ve argued about the value of sending a player back to the minor leagues as recently as last week. However, in Sanchez’s case, I really don’t think it’s a good idea for the Blue Jays to even toy with the sending him back to Buffalo, at least, not without his blessing anyway.
I say this because of a few factors, but the biggest one would be one of the Blue Jays’ biggest critics, Scott Boras. The super-agent represents Sanchez, and while he understands that his client has struggled a great deal, he’s not going to want to see his free agency delayed because of a decision like this. Even though the Blue Jays can justify the decision, the timing would send the message that they’re trying to manipulate service time. That may be a legal thing to do, but it’s been a very touchy subject in baseball circles this year and last, even with Blue Jays like Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The Blue Jays are still in an asset gathering phase of their rebuild, and taking advantage of the contract situation for Sanchez doesn’t send the best message to potential free agents down the line, or even future draft picks that they’re trying to lock up. If that’s a true risk (and I think it is), you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it in order to secure another year of Sanchez’s service time?
You could make the argument that it would be a decision made in the pitcher’s best interest, and I think it would be a valid one. However, at this point in his nearly three-year struggle, Sanchez’s frustration levels have to be at an all-time high, and it could be next to impossible to get him to buy in.
I’m not sure what the solution for Sanchez is at this point, but sadly, it might be a fresh start in another uniform. I don’t know if the Blue Jays can expect to get anything of value back based on the way he’s performed this season, but once in a while the only solution is to just cut your losses. Personally, I think that’s a better idea than sending him back to Buffalo.