I saw Aaron Sánchez pitch in person a couple of years ago, almost two years to the day, actually. It was a hot summer day in Boston, and I walked over to Fenway Park after work to meet my wife and her aunt for the game. I have been to Fenway numerous times, but this day stood out because I was able to score the best seats I have ever had to a Red Sox game.
I was sitting close enough that I could tell what pitch was being thrown without having to look at the scoreboard. Drew Pomeranz’s curveball looked sharp that day, but Sánchez’s, not so much. It just did not have much curve and depth to it. He got knocked around that day, giving up five runs in four innings on six hits and five walks.
(Oddly enough, Sánchez is pitching at Fenway Park as I write this! Life is weird.)
That game was basically a microcosm of Sánchez’s career since his breakout 2016 season. That year he had a 3.23 RA9 and 5.1 WAR, albeit with mediocre peripherals. He benefited from a good defense behind him, but still, he had a 3.77 DRA that year.
Sadly, he has fallen apart since then. In the two and a half seasons since, he has pitched only 238 innings with a 6.01 RA9. His strikeout rate dropped to a lowly 17 percent, and as exemplified in the game that I went to, his control has plummeted. His walk rate over that span is over 12 percent. Part of the problem has been the fact that Sánchez has had to deal with all kinds of problems with his fingers over the past few years, which can really affect a pitcher negatively.
The Blue Jays have one of the worst records in baseball this year, which was quite unexpected. I doubt anybody was expecting them to be competitive, but FanGraphs had them projected at 76 wins this season. They are currently projected to come in at 10 wins under that. They have Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who should get going soon, and Bo Bichette is a top prospect as well, but there is not much in the minors beyond that aside from Nate Pearson. The team could stand to further supplement their farm system.
One could argue that 2016 Aaron Sánchez is still in there somewhere, but lack of a track record of health and performance since 2017 greatly reduces his value. If a team can fix him, they will have him under contract through next season before he hits free agency. I don’t think that the Jays can get anything more than a couple of lottery picks for him, and if they are asking for more, they are not being realistic.
It might not be a bad idea to keep him in hopes that he will have a good second half and try to do better this winter. Honestly, there is not much he can do to drop his stock much lower, as he has a 6.77 RA9 so far this year. It will be interesting to see what the Blue Jays decide to do with him.
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Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.