One thing we as Blue Jays fans have become accustomed to over the past year-and-a-bit is the Cleveland Crew trading away players from the 2015 and 2016 glory days. That isn’t a shot at them or anything. The inevitability with that core getting older was making the difficult decisions to move on.
The front office controversially decided not to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion and it resulted in the draft pick that they used on Nate Pearson. They hung on to Josh Donaldson longer than they probably should have and that resulted in the team getting a very underwhelming return for the former MVP last August. Since then, we’ve also seen Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, and Kevin Pillar sent packing, mostly to open up spots for younger players.
The only players left from the pre-Shapiro and Atkins era are Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Justin Smoak. I guess Devon Travis and Dalton Pompey are still here, in spirit. But, really, those three are the key names who haven’t yet been sold for prospects or jettisoned to open up space for prospects.
According to Ken Rosenthal, they might not be around much longer…
“It’s going to be really interesting to watch the Jays over the next few months because what I believe they’re going to do – what I’m told they’re going to do – is try to trade [Marcus] Stroman, [Aaron] Sanchez, [Justin] Smoak and others to get more young talent in Vladdy’s age range and service class and then build up that way,” Rosenthal said.
This is far from a guarantee. Ken Rosenthal is most certainly a trustworthy source and he is well-connected. When he says the Jays are looking to deal their three key veterans, there’s merit to it.
That said, things can change. Great pitching, largely from Stroman and Sanchez, has the Jays at 14-14 through the first month of play. The team still really doesn’t have playoff aspirations this year, but the contention window could open quicker than many expected (especially if Boston’s collapse is actually legit).
That brings us to Stroman and Sanchez. If the Jays do decide to sell on SanchoMan’s good seasons prior to them hitting free agency after the 2020 season, they’ll more than likely be pushing that window back. I mean, unless they can pull off deals that bring back younger pitchers who will immediately be ready to help the team.
To me, it seems like the Mystery Box scenario. Do you want Stroman and Sanchez, or do you want the Mystery Box, which could be Stroman and Sanchez?
Finding good starting pitching is no easy task. I mean, Nathan Eovaldi signed a four-year deal worth $68 million this off-season after pitching well in an incredibly small sample size. Even J.A. Happ, in his mid-30s, was able to command $34 million over two years this winter.
Beyond Stroman and Sanchez, the Jays don’t really have much in the way of starting pitching. Nate Pearson, who’s kicking the piss out of Single-A, is the top prospect, followed by thriving teen Eric Pardinho. But otherwise? Without SanchoMan, we’re looking at a 2020 rotation of… Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, and Thomas Pannone. Maybe Matt Shoemaker? And a veteran or two? That with Pearson, Pardinho, and guys like Patrick Murphy and, likely, whoever comes back in the returns for those trades developing in the minors.
It’s a difficult decision, but, given the ways things are going, it seems Sanchez and Stroman, or, at the very least, one of the two, should be a part of the long-term plans of the organization.