Will the Toronto Blue Jays ever get a chance to see what might have become of the Lansing 3 north of the border?
The answer to that question used to be so much more certain, but after Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard were shipped out of town in 2012 offseason, all that’s left off the bluebirds’ highly-touted trio is Aaron Sanchez — and whether he might actually get to represent the trio in Toronto is still seemingly a bit of a question mark at this point.
That’s not to say that the team doesn’t like his upside, of course, but after going through an injury-afflicted 2013 season that saw some significant ups and downs along with reported issues with his mechanics and control (4.14 BB/9 over 86.1 IP for the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays), you’d have to wonder what his chances of being part of the team’s next wave are.
This is especially true given that Alex Anthopoulos and co. have shown that they prefer young arms who have shown command when dishing up call-ups, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the right-hander is now back on a slow track to the bigs.
Despite doing his best to try and make up time in the AFL, he could very well start back in Dunedin before being moved to double-A later in the season, and unless that walk rate comes down, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll get a shot even if the team is depleted of pitchers once more due to injuries and various other worst-case scenarios.
Plus, with the team still in the middle of having their window of competition open and needing to fill several holes, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for them to dangle Sanchez in trade offers either.
While he’s still one of, if not the team’s top prospect, the fact is that what the Blue Jays lack in a no. 1 ace, they do not lack for depth in starting pitching prospects. Even if Kyle Drabek never quite pans out, Drew Hutchison is hard at work to return to form after Tommy John surgery, while Sean Nolin is still waiting for his chance for redemption from a memorably poor MLB debut.
Outside of that, Marcus Stroman impressed in double-A in 2013 and could be on the fast track, while Daniel Norris could be en route to double-A in 2013 after striking out 10.4 batters per nine over 85.2 innings of A-ball.
None of those players are necessarily safe from being traded, but given the Sanchez’s status as a blue-chipper, the 21-year-old could be the one that could get the Blue Jays what they might need as the centerpiece of a package — perhaps for a Howie Kendrick, Wilson Ramos or Brandon Phillips? Maybe … even a Max Scherzer (in dreamland)?
Whether the team moves on from the Lansing 3 for good this offseason or not, the fact is that Sanchez represents perhaps the best chance for the Blue Jays to pull off another blockbuster-ish deal using its minor league currency as opposed to MLB level assets.
If they should actually pursue the possibility is another topic of discussion, but as Sanchez doesn’t seem particularly close to being the next in line … I wouldn’t bet against him never getting that chance in Toronto, you know?