Aaron Sanchez in the Rotation Was the Right Decision All Along

Finally, the Aaron Sanchez saga is over. One of the Blue Jays most promising young arms will in fact make the Opening Day starting rotation and won’t be “wasted” in the bullpen.

With Spring Training wrapping up soon and perhaps at the persuasion of some anxious fans, the Blue Jays quelled a lot of fears by making the correct decision on Aaron Sanchez; he will be a starter … for now.

That’s not to say he may not go back to the bullpen further down the road a little later this season, but at least Sanchez will get an opportunity to begin the season as a starting pitcher.


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However, for a number of reasons, this wasn’t quite the open-and-shut case as one would believe it should be. The surprising emergence of Gavin Floyd certainly complicated things, and led many to believe the club was actually leaning towards Floyd in the rotation over Sanchez.

John Gibbons’ comments over the past few days also indicate this may not have been a unanimous decision among all the decision makers. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins raved about Gavin Floyd, and with their first-hand knowledge of Floyd from his days with the Indians, that complicated things even further.

But when Gibbons told reporters that “Sanchez might be a reliever for the rest of his career”, that seemed like Gibby’s subtle way of opining for Sanchez to start. And luckily, it worked.

I’m glad the Blue Jays made this decision on Aaron Sanchez, but really … it was almost a no-lose situation for the club. Either they have Sanchez in the rotation as one of the most impressive arms in Spring Training this year, or they slot him into the back end of the bullpen as a hard-throwing reliever.

Obviously, the upside is to see if Aaron Sanchez can follow in the footsteps of Marcus Stroman, but it would’ve been so incredibly tempting just to keep Sanchez in the bullpen as a high leverage reliever.

I’m afraid it’s true what John Gibbons said – if the club chose to make Aaron Sanchez as a reliever, that probably would’ve signaled the end of his career as a starter. Not necessarily because Sanchez was a “failed starter”, but because the Jays have toyed with Sanchez so much in his young career that they already made that decision for him.

But this was the correct choice for Aaron Sanchez and the Blue Jays both short term and long term. The organization has been wavering back and forth on Sanchez and arguably you could say they’ve squandered two years of his development in lieu of having him as a reliever.

If you’ll recall, prior to Sanchez’ return from injury in late July, the Blue Jays turned confused a lot of people by announcing Aaron Sanchez would come back off the disabled list as a reliever and not a starter.

It was only later revealed that this was prior to acquiring David Price and later on, the return of Marcus Stroman to the starting rotation. Knowing what we know now, it was the correct move by the Blue Jays, but at the time it was very curious.


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It’s kind of a double-edged sword with Aaron Sanchez and his flexibility to go from the starting rotation and the bullpen. During Spring Training, any given year, the Jays have had the option to start or make Aaron Sanchez a reliever, which has been a blessing and a curse.

Fortunately, Sanchez has looked decent in both roles, but long term the Blue Jays want and need to find out what they have in Aaron Sanchez. Do they just have a one inning guy or does he have the makings of a number two in the starting rotation behind Marcus Stroman.

The Jays made the right move with Sanchez, but it didn’t sound like it was a unanimous decision. It seems like John Gibbons was campaigning for Sanchez in the rotation over the bullpen, and I’m just guessing here … but perhaps Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins preferred Sanchez begin the season as a reliever.

A lot of people are very interested in what Aaron Sanchez could be, and during Spring Training, he’s certainly looked like a solid number two pitcher if not a potential number one starter. Due to all the added attention on the Blue Jays this year, there are now a lot of additional sets of eyes on Aaron Sanchez.

This spring has made a lot of people take notice of Aaron Sanchez. As a reliever, he may have flown under the radar, but he has looked liked one of the best starting pitchers in all of Spring Training.

Even if all of this only translates to moderate success for Aaron Sanchez as a starter, I think the Blue Jays would be pretty satisfactory with that. If the Jays can get five or six innings out of Aaron Sanchez every start, that’s an adequate result.


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The Blue Jays may have reluctantly come to this decision on Aaron Sanchez, but it was the right move and it allows the club much more flexibility down the road.

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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