Stoeten Opens Gregor’s Box – 7/28/16


Remember back a week or so ago when I was fairly regularly complaining about the lack of Benny Fresh chats, or Richard Griffin mail bags, or Gregor Chisholm inbox posts this season, and how I’ve been champing at the bit for a good, old fashioned hijacking?

And remember how, about a week ago, I kinda stopped saying stuff like that?

Maybe you didn’t notice. *Hopefully* you didn’t notice. But if you did, there’s a reason why I stopped: Gregor put up a fresh Inbox at!

Yes! So let’s take a dip into the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, shall we?

As always, I have not read any of Gregor’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Gregor in his post and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

I’m so confused about the plan for Aaron Sanchez. Are the Blue Jays going to move him to the bullpen? — Kristy M., Toronto

You almost get the sense that the Blue Jays are confused about it, too. John Gibbons has said repeatedly that “it’s going to happen,” but as Sanchez has continued to be the club’s ace, and continued to show no signs of fatigue, the Jays seem to be wilting a little bit in their once-resolute defence of junk science.

I wrote about this earlier today, after Ross Atkins and Keith Law both separately discussed the subject on TSN 1050 Radio, and the GM didn’t exactly clear anything up. He said that the goal is to keep Sanchez pitching through the end of the season, and he acknowledged that using him as a traditional reliever may not actually give his arm much of a rest, but that they could manage his innings both in the bullpen or in the rotation. Certainly nothing concrete — though that seems to be by design, as he compared this situation spring training, when the club was flexible about Sanchez’s role, and has benefitted greatly because of it.

In other words, maybe they add a starter and move him to the bullpen; maybe they pick up a guy like Andrew Cashner of the Padres, who could pitch in relief or start and could flip roles with Sanchez at some point; or maybe they focus solely on the bullpen. We probably won’t know what they’re thinking — and maybe they won’t, either — until we see the kind of deals that materialize as Monday’s trade deadline approaches.

If Sanchez goes to the ‘pen, do the Blue Jays go out and get themselves a legit starter like Chris Archer or Sonny Gray? Or do they stick with Drew Hutchison? — Karim, Mississauga, Ontario

Uh… something in between?

I think they’ll find it a whole lot harder to send Sanchez to the bullpen if their only replacement is Hutchison. They just don’t really have the depth behind him to do that. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able — or willing — to go out and get an Archer or a Gray.

Maybe a Rich Hill? That is, if they can outbid the other suitors — which is another complication. The Jays don’t have the prospect capital that other teams do, meaning that while they might have enough good prospects to get a deal done, they’re naturally — and smartly — going to clutch the few good ones that they do have a little tighter than most. More than a team like the Red Sox, for example, who dealt one of the better pitching prospects in the game for Drew Pomeranz.

So I still suspect that the kinds of trades the Jays will make are the kinds that they’ve made so far: Jason Grilli for nothing, Joaquin Benoit for dead weight, Melvin Upton for a few million dollars more than anybody else would pay.

It’s getting harder and harder to upgrade this roster with incremental moves like that, though. It’s not impossible they’ll feel they have to make a bigger splash — and maybe, because the new front office likely views some of their prospects differently than the old front office, there are some surprising names we’ll see moved — I just wouldn’t bet on it.

What’s wrong with trading Jose Bautista for a starter? Ezequiel Carrera has been doing a good job in right field. — Jim Davey


Oh man. I love it so much when straw men come to life.

But, OK, we can talk about this. But only because the Jays have Melvin Upton now — who at least looks vaguely like an everyday player, unlike Carrera.

Don’t get me wrong, Carrera has done an outstanding job for the Jays this year, it’s just… wow. Some fans sure are quick to want to give up a five-win player for someone decidedly replacement level. But yes, if the Jays could land a legitimate rotation upgrade — and, especially, one with a few years of cheap team control left — that would be an absolutely terrific thing. And in a year in which they weren’t in the thick of a pennant race, moving a free-agent-to-be like Bautista for something like that would certainly be a priority.

But, of course, the Jays are focussed on the now, and losing Bautista would be a severe blow to that pursuit. Could it be mitigated enough to make a trade worthwhile by adding a long-term piece that could also help them right now? Sure, I think so. But whatever that theoretical piece is, it would be a hell of a lot to give up for a team that’s only getting two months of the slugger.

Last night the rumour was that the Nationals had inquired about Bautista, and so I wrote a bit about the idea of a trade and… sure, if Washington would actually give up someone like Lucas Giolito, maybe the best pitching prospect in the game, who hasn’t quite found his footing in a few big league starts so far, but could step immediately into the rotation, maybe you think you offset the immediate loss of Bautista enough to do it.

Maybe adding a long-term piece like that would make the Jays feel comfortable dealing one of their existing prospects for a bat, even.

But would Washington actually get that desperate? Especially with other, less costly, options elsewhere on the market? I have a hard time believing it. And if the Jays aren’t getting a piece like that back, why would they do it? They’ll get a decent draft pick back if Bautista walks this winter, and that’s not nothing. It is, in fact, fine — particularly given the fact that they get to have Bautista for the next two months and a playoff run beyond that.

It would just be very, very difficult to thread the needle required to put together a deal involving Bautista that makes sense. We really shouldn’t be talking about it so much.

If you could pick one player that would best complement and improve this Jays team, who would you select? — Mike Robertson

I don’t think we can really answer that, because it requires having some idea of what the team might do with Aaron Sanchez. If you think you can keep him in the rotation, maybe a high-end reliever like Andrew Miller or Mark “North Shore Strangler” Melancon. If you think he goes to the bullpen, then definitely some form of a starter — Rich Hill, if healthy, or maybe a Matt Shoemaker (if you’re willing to bet heavily on him, given the cost of getting a guy with that much control), or maybe even a bigger name.

I guess that isn’t just one player, eh?

If prices are too high for pitching, should the Jays just go all in on hitting? What’s the asking price for Carlos Beltran? — Kevin Cohen, Calgary, Alberta

Kind of a moot point now that the Jays have added Melvin Upton Jr., but uh… how would anyone who isn’t the Yankees know that?

What prospects could be on the move before the Trade Deadline? — Jim P., Edmonton, Alberta


Yeah, I don’t know. Better ones than the Jays would prefer to give up, worse ones than whoever they’re trading with would want to get.

I don’t think there’s any prospect they’re specifically trying to move, it really all depends on what the other team wants and what the Jays will get back. Pretty sure these things are very fluid. So… if you want to know which prospects might move, look at which prospects they have. Because, for real, all of them might. Er… any of them might.