Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Sanchez’s most recent major injury shines some light on the Blue Jays’ choice to move on

You can add another chapter to the incredible unfortunate injury history of Aaron Sanchez. The former Blue Jay and current Houston Astro was shut down a few weeks ago due to a shoulder issue, but now, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, Sanchez’s injury will spill into 2020.

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The last three seasons of Sanchez’s career have been an absolute trainwreck. After his breakout season in 2016, various injuries have made it impossible for Sanchez to pitch consistently. He had his blister issue in 2017 and a continuation of the finger issues persisted in 2018. In 2019, Sanchez was finally healthy, but, due to missing so much time over the course of the previous seasons, his velocity and stamina were down, making him much less effective than in the past.

Sanchez had reportedly been struggling with a nagging shoulder issue and was shut down for the 2019 season in order to get surgery. According to Rome, this surgery will be similar to another procedure done to Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias a couple of years ago. Urias underwent surgery in June of 2017 and didn’t make it back to a Major League mound until September of 2018.

There are now some questions around Sanchez’s future in Houston. Sanchez will enter his final year of control in 2020 and is due for a raise in arbitration from his current $3.9 million salary. Given the Astros have no idea when he’ll be ready to pitch in 2020, they could end up non-tendering him. They could ink him to a cheaper deal as a free agent or they could choose to walk away from Sanchez.

It would bet the former. It would be in Sanchez’s best interest to come back to Houston if that were the case, even if his salary was substantially lower than that $3.9 million figure. Houston is a factory with a proven track record of getting the most out of their pitchers. A strong second-half and playoff run with the Astros would secure Sanchez a pretty good bag of cash in free agency.

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Sanchez had a sparkling debut with the Astros, pitching six innings in what ended up as the first combined no-hitter in franchise history. He had another strong start before falling off the rails in his final two starts of 2019. Sanchez finished the season with a 5.89 ERA over 131 1/3 innings, striking out 7.9 and walking 4.7 batters per nine.

Still, as we know, there’s a lot of potential in that arm. If Sanchez can ever stay healthy, he can be a very good pitcher. Maybe he won’t return as a starter, but he even proved in 2015 he can be an elite late-inning reliever. It’s been wildly unfortunate how injuries have derailed such a promising career. I sincerely hope the Astros do stick by Sanchez and help him rebound. You absolutely hate to see a guy get gutted by such random, frustrating injuries as Sanchez has.

But this kind of sheds some light on why the Blue Jays chose to move on from Sanchez prior to this year’s trade deadline. I figure, knowing Sanchez’s overarching injury concerns, the organization decided to move on and focus their efforts on their crop of young pitchers breaking into the Majors. I mean, that’s mostly just my speculation, but it’s hard to imagine these shoulder issues just showed up out of the blue in August.

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It was just one year ago that the Jays ended up dealing Josh Donaldson at his lowest point of value for a player who may or may not even exist. Rather than pulling the trigger on a Donaldson deal after his strong finish to the 2017 season, the Jays hung on, he got injured, and they ended up with pretty much nothing to show for it. I imagine they weren’t prepared to make the same mistake with Sanchez.

Again, I hope Sanchez can get healthy and get his career back on track. I have a feeling the Astros were aware of this issue and chose to take the gamble on Sanchez anyway. That would probably explain why the Jays had to also include a decent reliever in Joe Biagini and a prospect in Cal Stevenson in the deal, given that Sanchez’s injury concerns made him even more of a project than Derek Fisher.