The Toronto Blue Jays have seen their fair share of top prospects over the years come and go through the organization. Back in the early 2010s, the Blue Jays had three highly ranked pitchers in the Minor Leagues: Justin Nicolino, Noah Syndergaard, and Aaron Sanchez followed by the arrival of Marcus Stroman in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Only two of those pitchers would make their MLB debut with the Blue Jays, as Nicolino was moved as part of the blockbuster Miami Marlins deal and Syndergaard was one of the main pieces of the R.A. Dickey trade with the New York Mets back in the 2012/2013 offseason.
Sanchez and Stroman remained with the Jays until the Atkins era was brought into town and the team underwent a rebuild after the postseason runs in 2015 and 2016. At the 2019 trade deadline, Stroman would be traded to the New York Mets in exchange for prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson while Sanchez would be moved days later alongside Joe Biagini and Cal Stevenson to the Houston Astros in exchange for outfielder Derek Fisher. The falling out of the Stroman trade was more dramatic than the Sanchez deal, as the fiery right-hander traded jabs with the Blue Jays front office pretty much leading up to the trade due to an ongoing contract extension that never fully materialized.
Stroman went on to play with the New York Mets and recently signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs worth $71 million (including numerous player opt-outs) this past offseason. Sanchez on the other hand has not had the same fortune, as the right-hander has struggled to stay healthy as well as find a spot on a Major League roster since being traded.
After the Astros trade, Sanchez finished the season on the IL and underwent surgery on his shoulder, which sidelined him for the entire 2020 campaign. As a free agent, he inked a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants for the 2021 season but struggled to stay healthy once again. He authored a 3.06 ERA through nine appearances (seven starts) with 26 strikeouts but would be DFA’d and released in mid-August.
The Blue Jays could be facing an old friend in Aaron Sanchez when they start a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins later this week.
Sanchez signed a MiLB deal with the Washington Nationals after the lockout this past offseason and began the year in AAA. He would be called up to the Nationals roster on April 23rd and made seven starts, posting an 8.31 ERA through 31.1 innings, surrendering 47 hits compared to 16 strikeouts. The Nats would DFA him in late May and he signed a Minor League deal with the Minnesota Twins and reported to their AAA team.
After almost two months down in the minors, Sanchez was called up to the big league squad to make a spot start yesterday for the Twins against the Detroit Tigers and impressed during his outing. The California product went five innings while allowing just four hits and two earned runs on 81 pitches, adding eight strikeouts compared to two walks which eventually cumulated in a Twins win.
It is yet to be known whether the Twins have plans to keep him in the rotation moving forward, especially with the trade deadline finishing up later today and some potential moves could see his spot on the roster quickly disappear. However, if the Twins liked what they saw and want to get another look at the veteran pitcher, his next start would be at home when the Toronto Blue Jays roll in for a four-game series starting on Thursday. This would be the first time he has ever faced the team that drafted him back in 2010.
While the injury troubles and blister issues haunted him in Toronto (and after his departure) amidst the 2016 season where he led the AL with his 3.00 ERA, it is nice to see Sanchez gaining some traction with another MLB team. All the best to Aaron and hopefully the Jays see him on the weekend, where the outlook might look a bit different from my point of view at least when the Blue Jays try and secure a win against an old friend.