No aspect of this Blue Jay training camp has inspired more analysis from fans, media and baseball people than how best to utilize Aaron Sanchez’s immense talent.
Monday, the only people who matter — the Jays’ field staff and front office — weighed in and determined that Sanchez will break camp as one of Toronto’s five starting pitchers, putting an end, for now, to all manner of speculation.
Sanchez came to training camp in competition with Gavin Floyd, Drew Hutchison and Jesse Chavez for the one remaining rotation spot, joining Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada. Weighing on Sanchez’s fate was the impressive body of work he has compiled working out of the Jays’ bullpen down the stretch the past two seasons.
The decision came down to Floyd and Sanchez and, while there were compelling arguments on both sides of the issue regarding Sanchez, it’s clear he has greater value as a starter than as a reliever.
“They all had really good springs but this is the way we feel it will work best right now,” said manager John Gibbons.
Floyd and Chavez will move into bullpen roles while Hutchison has been optioned to Triple A Buffalo and will provide some experienced insurance as the first man up when the Jays need another starter.
“We haven’t decided on an order yet but just because he’s the fifth man doesn’t mean he’s the fifth starter,” said Gibbons.
“Aaron has earned it and we’re going to let him run with it and see what happens. We think the sky is the limit for him.”
Sanchez has finished the last two seasons in the Toronto bullpen as an effective setup man. There was concern that if he went to the bullpen yet again his future career as a starter might be compromised. Needless to say there was a lot of debate in the Blue Jay organizational meetings before the decisions were made.
“We all put our heads together,” said Gibbons. “This decision wasn’t totally mine but it turned out the way I wanted it.”
Ken Fidlin Postmedia Network