Alex Anthopoulos Clarifies the Aaron Sanchez Starter/Reliever Debate (Sort Of)

Could the solution to the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen woes be right under their nose?

Although he’s currently on the mend as a starting pitcher, according to some surrounding the organization, the remedy for an often volatile Toronto bullpen may lie in none other than Aaron Sanchez.

Entering the 2015 season, there was much debate as to whether Aaron Sanchez was better suited as a starter or reliever. That discussion is coming to a head once again as the Jays seem to have a surplus of starting pitching depth, but a need for back-end relievers.


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Alex Anthopoulos spoke with Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker on Baseball Central yesterday and kind of clarified the current muddied status of Aaron Sanchez as either a starter or reliever.

“If it doesn’t look like there’s a spot for Aaron in the rotation, sure, we know we can put him in the bullpen and he’d do a good job. What that role would be, obviously the manager would make that decision.

As we sit here today, Aaron will be stretched out as a starter; that’ll be the plan. Look, I hope we’re in a position that we don’t have room for him, and because the rotation’s doing so well and we’ve gone out acquired some guys and have that much depth.

We’re not there yet, but that’d be a great problem to have.”

There hasn’t even been a set timetable on Sanchez return, as he has yet to even throw off of a mound or make a rehab appearance. One would think that he may be ready to go after the All-Star break.

As of now, Anthopoulos stated Sanchez will remain status quo as a starting pitcher. It was interesting to hear him squash any notion that Sanchez would come back as a reliever; the caveat to that of course being if someone like Matt Boyd emerges as a viable starter or the Blue Jays acquire a starting pitcher in trade.

Considering the Blue Jays’ bullpen has been a concern since virtually day one of the 2015 season, it might be tempting to take Aaron Sanchez and stash him in the bullpen. That would allow the Blue Jays front office to focus their efforts on acquiring a starting pitcher.

However, Aaron Sanchez is far more valuable to the Blue Jays as a starter than a reliever. Also, if Sanchez stays in the rotation and the focus then shifts to bolstering the bullpen, the asking price for a reliever would surely be less than a starter.

But again, if the opportunity presents itself for the Blue Jays to go after a starting pitcher in trade, that would suddenly push Aaron Sanchez out of the picture as one of the team’s starters. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as Sanchez was electric in short stints out of the bullpen last season.

Call me paranoid, but I’m still not entirely convinced Aaron Sanchez is all that close to returning anyway. If he does though, at least it will be as a starting pitcher … unless something else happens.


Image courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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