Aaron Sanchez's Role With The Blue Jays Is As Unclear As Ever

Andrew Stoeten
March 22 2016 10:44AM

Aaron Sanchez
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There may be a schism coming between the Blue Jays' front office and their field staff on the question of how to handle Aaron Sanchez, but not the one that you necessarily think.

"The job of player development is taking talent and working to have those players achieve their potential, mentally, fundamentally and physically," said club president Mark Shapiro in a radio interview last week. "And you want to get that done prior to getting to the big leagues. Because one thing is, when you get to the big leagues, you fight to survive. You are not developing."

Those wise words have often proven difficult for the Blue Jays to follow—as in the case of Sanchez, who came up to bail out the big-league bullpen at the end of 2014 and hasn't been back to the minor leagues since, save for a handful of rehab appearances while he recovered from a lat strain last summer.

He's a big leaguer, in other words. A status seemingly affirmed Monday, when John Lott tweeted that pitching coach Pete Walker said that sending Sanchez to Buffalo is "not something that has been seriously discussed."


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Let's Be Reasonable: Aaron Sanchez Is A Reliever

Drew Fairservice
March 22 2016 10:05AM

Aaron Sanchez
Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

What is Aaron Sanchez? Is he a reliever, or a starter? This is the only real unanswered question for the Blue Jays this spring. Where does the hard-throwing right-hander fit?

The Blue Jays front office are doing their best to keep their rotation plans under wraps. Those eager to parse Mark Shapiro’s words find ample proof -- the Jays president citing Sanchez’s “ unknowns ” -- to suggest the new front office is leaning towards using Gavin Floyd as the fifth starter, with Sanchez relegated to the bullpen.  

One thing we do know: Aaron Sanchez has great stuff but iffy command, a problem is that isn’t uncommon and isn’t unique to Sanchez. What is unique to Sanchez is arsenal. His unusual repertoire, along with his lackluster strikeout totals, makes him so tough to predict. It could also be the single biggest barrier to him becoming a successful starter.

Drafted by the previous regime, Shapiro, Atkins, et al are able to look at Sanchez with fresh eyes. If they see breaking balls and offspeed pitches unlikely to become consistently effective weapons, that means when they look at him, they see a reliever.

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John Gibbons Gets His Contract Reworked

Andrew Stoeten
March 21 2016 08:32PM

John Gibbons
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before his previous boss departed the organization, John Gibbons approached Alex Anthopoulos about removing the rollover clause in his contract that somewhat ham-fistedly quieted the question of his ever being a lame duck manager by exchanging it for a “Is Gibbons getting fired?” countdown every New Year’s Eve. Or so says Gibbons, according to a report from Jeff Blair and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet , which looks into the reworking of the manager’s contract -- something that seems to have first been admitted by Ross Atkins in a radio interview on Sunday.

Essentially, the clause had served its purpose. With a winning team and less need to deflect from the manager’s potential lame duck status, and new front office leadership in place, it only made sense for both sides that the laissez fair deal Gibbons had been working under should be a little more businesslike.

Or at least that’s how I think it’s best to read it.

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The Daily Duce: Monday, March 21st

Andrew Stoeten
March 21 2016 03:48PM



Ross Atkins speaks! Or so he did over the weekend on MLB Network Radio, and Ewan Ross of BP Toronto was there to provide us with some nuggets from the conversation, including Atkins confirming that the rolling clause in John Gibbons’ contract (which was to prevent him from ever being a lame duck manager) has already been removed by the new regime. So that’s… something. As it was with the Eric Wedge “concerns,” though, Gibbons will be bulletproof if the team does well, and will be on the hot seat if they don’t -- kinda like every other manager in the game. Meh.

Bob Nightengale tweets that "John Gibbons' contract actually went through 2017 anyway, but now the rollover clause is gone." So it won't guarantee him for 2018 if he's still employed on January 1st, 2017, then? OK, sure.

Edwin Encarnacion’s contract concerns, which the slugger made very public this weekend, have elicited a response from club president Mark Shapiro, which we get via BlueJays.com . But just because he’s responding doesn’t mean he’s taking the bait. “They have the right to be able to handle things any way they want,” he says of Encarnacion and Jose Bautista (who has also been rather public about his impending free agency). “I just have had enough experience to recognize that the back and forth in that forum doesn't accomplish anything.” Fair.

Elsewhere at BlueJays.com , Gregor Chisholm tells us that Kevin Pillar has been unofficially named the club’s lead-off hitter, which… isn’t ideal. Not that anyone on the roster is particularly ideal for the slot. And not that it doesn’t mean anything that he at least actually wants to do it. And not that it’s even a real problem until he pulls a Pillar-esque 0-for-May. It’s just… it isn’t ideal.

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Cautionary Tales Should Be Front Of Mind As The Blue Jays Consider How To Handle A Talented And Confident Aaron Sanchez

John Lott
March 21 2016 02:42PM

Aaron Sanchez
Aaron Sanchez - Photo Credit: John Lott

Among the tenants of the Blue Jays’ inner sanctum, the debate is spirited. There are two distinct camps, each presenting respectful but robust reasoning. The evidence continues to trickle in. No one is in a particular rush to settle this case.

No one, perhaps, except for Aaron Sanchez.

The Jays have one vacancy in their starting rotation. Sanchez aches for it, dreams about it, grows angry in moments when he fears he won’t get it, then gives his head a shake and says this team has a chance to win big this year, so yes, if they need me in the bullpen again, I won’t complain.

But geez, let me start already.

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