The San Diego Padres are searching for starting pitching and could ultimately end up speaking to the Toronto Blue Jays about RHP Aaron Sanchez. The Padres could envision Sanchez as a player who is about to break out during the 2019 season, and worth the cost.
As the Boston Red Sox wrapped up their 2018 World Series title, it occurred to me once again that a team must have pitching depth in order to compete in the playoffs. You must have several top of the order-type pitchers in the rotation, and you cannot have a weak bullpen, either, if you expect to advance.
In the San Diego Padres’ search for relevancy, it is painfully obvious that the team needs starting pitchers.
The youth is on the way in the rotation, but there are no certainties with all these young hurlers. The Padres have already been linked to a few young ace-like pitchers – Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Michael Fulmer to name a few. They are trolling the waters for young, controllable starting pitchers. One way or another, the team will get a deal done to fortify the rotation. They have minor league depth as well as major league players to trade. The Padres are definitely poised to make a few moves.
A name that could be interesting for the Friars is California native and former all-star Aaron Sanchez. The Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitcher is still only 26 and was an all-star in 2016 for the Jays. He has had two down seasons, with injury concerns, and could be attained for a decent price. He might be a great reclamation project for the Padres.
Sanchez’ injury issues are related to a blister and finger tendon – nothing to be too concerned about if you are the Padres front office. The fact these nagging issues have lingered for two seasons is a bit of a red flag, but the Mexican-American pitcher had surgery on his finger in September and will reportedly be at full strength in the spring. A clean bill of health could result in a breakout year for this young pitcher.
Aaron Sanchez was born in Barstow, California and attended Barstow high school, where he was selected by the Blue Jays in the 1st round (30th overall) in 2010. He has a great build (6-foot-4 and 220 lbs) and an excellent arsenal of pitches. The right-hander has a power sinker that is arguably one of the best in the game. When he is on, he pounds the zone with the pitch and records quick, easy outs. In 2016, at the age of 23, he went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP in 192 innings pitched. That was good for a 5.1 WAR.
His sinking two-seam fastball is a heavy pitch. Sanchez led the majors in home runs allowed in 2016 when he allowed just 0.7 in every nine innings pitched. He was 0.9 for every nine innings this past season. Batters have trouble elevating the fastball from Sanchez, and that could play very well at Petco Park.
What would it take for Sanchez?
So why would the Blue Jays even consider dealing a 26-year-old pitcher?
Toronto is rebuilding. Whether they like to admit it or not, they need to. Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have young teams ready to compete now. Throwing money at a seemingly third-place finish is a waste of time. The organization is instead regrouping and evaluating their options. Sanchez is young, but is coming off two bad years, and the franchise is clearly a bit frustrated with the fact he has not been able to advance past finger issues.
The price tag would still be high. Sanchez is hardly a throwaway as he is not due for free agency until after the 2020 season. That is two years of control over the right-handed pitcher. His value might be the highest right now for the Blue Jays as they determine whether or not he can pitch as he did in 2016. If he falters again in 2019, he will have little value with free agency looming.
The Jays would want at least two pitching prospects to get things started. The Padres have depth in that area and could easily match the Blue Jays’ asking price. Josh Naylor and Austin Allen are also interesting options as they are both blocked in San Diego, but could be utilized in Toronto with the DH very much in play. The Padres have the players to get a deal done. The question is whether or not the Jays want to move Sanchez.
An interesting option
This is a completely off-the-wall scenario. But hear me out.
If the Padres were to package Wil Myers and a prospect or two, could they pry Aaron Sanchez and Troy Tulowitzki away from the Blue Jays? Tulo is owed $34 million for the next two seasons and then has a $4 million dollar buyout (or $15 million dollar option) for the 2021 season. That is $38 million owed to him at the very least. Myers is due $74 million for the next four seasons. Is this an option for the Friars? Is the team willing to move on from Myers?
Tulowitzki has not performed in Toronto and the Blue Jays could easily be persuaded to deal the veteran shortstop. Myers has been an enigma, but arguably has value and could benefit playing on the east coast with the Jays. He is due twice the money of Tulo, but at 28 should still have some good years left in him.
The Padres’ current needs are in the rotation, and the team also needs a shortstop for the 2019 season. The 34-year-old Tulowitzki is nothing to be too excited about, but if he can regain some of the form he once had in Colorado, he could be serviceable to the team. He comes with the reputation of being a leader on the field and provides the team insurance for Fernando Tatis Jr. as he eases himself into the everyday role at shortstop. That in itself could be valuable for the Padres.
The Jays are an interesting team to monitor as the Padres search for pitching, and possibly more. Marcus Stroman might also be an option for the Friars if they prefer him over Sanchez. Ultimately, the Padres would have to move top prospects to get any deal done. That does not seem too far-fetched though, as the Padres simply cannot hoard them all. At some point, decisions need to be made. Some young talent will probably be moved.
The Myers and Tulo idea is interesting, but could really complicate a possible deal for a pitcher. The Padres have invested in Myers and I am not sure if they are willing to part with him for pennies on the dollar. Myers is still making reasonable money this season ($5.5 million) and could appear on the field at many different positions in 2019. This is just food for thought. After all, it is Hot Stove season and the Padres will surely be front and center.