Blue Jays: There’s more than one kind of change of scenery

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 17: Starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the bottom of the first inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 17: Starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the bottom of the first inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays haven’t hesitated to send young players to Triple-A when they’ve needed a change of scenery. The same concept could look different for Aaron Sanchez.

Rowdy Tellez was the latest struggling young player to be sent down to Triple-A Buffalo in hopes that he would regain his confidence and the stroke that made him successful earlier in the year. The Blue Jays have used the same concept with others like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, and hope the change of scenery will help get Tellez back on track.

It’s a concept that often works for young players, especially when they have minor league options, and are still adjusting to the highest level. For more experienced veterans, you have to approach things a little differently.

There were some rumours last month that the Blue Jays could consider sending Aaron Sanchez back to Triple-A as they had with others. However, the deadline has passed for the Blue Jays to have that option without his blessing, as Sanchez would now have the right to refuse a minor league assignment. It didn’t really feel like a realistic option anyway, as it likely would have soured both Sanchez and his agent, Scott Boras.

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While they may not have wanted to change Sanchez’s scenery in the same way they have with their rookies and second-year players, the Jays do have a couple of options when it comes to their struggling right-hander, and they follow a similar concept of pulling him out of his current rut.

That different vantage point could come for Sanchez in two ways that I can foresee. First, it’s entirely possible that the former AL ERA champion could end up on the trading block in the next couple of weeks, even with his value at an all-time low. A fresh start with a new team has helped a lot of talented big leaguers in the past, and there’s reason to think that Sanchez may be able to do the same with that opportunity. The talent is still in his arm, even if it has mostly been hiding for the last 2.5 seasons.

The second option, which could work either in Toronto, or in the scenario described above, and it’s an idea that has been discussed several times this year, and throughout Sanchez’s struggles to stay healthy. Maybe he needs to go back to the bullpen where he started his career.

It might not even mean that he has to permanently give up on being a starting pitcher, but if I’m Sanchez and Boras right now, I’d certainly consider it a realistic option for the remainder of the 2019 season at least. That would especially be the case if he was traded to join a contender’s bullpen, and it sounds like there could be some real interest around the league in that idea, at least according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan a few days ago.

The Blue Jays will have to decide if they believe that staying the course with him as a starter will ultimately result in the turn around they’ve been hoping for since the 2016 season ended, or if perhaps cutting ties with him now makes more sense. In order to do that they may need Sanchez to be willing to move to the bullpen, at least for the short term, but that change of scenery might be exactly what the California-born hurler needs right now.

I still get irked when I think about how Chris Carpenter turned his career around in St. Louis, or even by watching the excellent play of Gio Urshela in New York this season after being nothing more than a depth piece in Toronto last year. However, when it comes to Sanchez I feel like everyone involved is stuck in the mud and spinning their tires right now, and that’s not good for anyone.

Next. Blue Jays still believe in Tellez and expect him back soon. dark

It’s time for a change for scenery for Sanchez, whether that means he pitches in the bullpen for the Blue Jays or someone else,  I hope he finds the top of his game again.

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