The 2019 Toronto Blue Jays are already almost unrecognizable from the team that made back-to-back runs to the ALCS just a few years ago.
The roster shakeup that has already seen the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson leave town may not be close to finished just yet.
Rival executives assume Toronto will look to trade starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez at some point this season, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
“You would assume — as executives with other teams have told me they do — that during the year Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez probably are going to be traded by the Blue Jays and flipped for prospects,” Olney said Tuesday on the Baseball Tonight podcast. “Both of them are eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.
“If you’re the Blue Jays sitting there right now, Stroman’s pitching great, Sanchez is pitching great, they have other marketable pieces on that team. You flip those for prospects who will be added to this great group of young players and they could be relevant within a couple years assuming they pick the right pitchers in these deals that they make with Stroman and Sanchez.”
Following a disappointing 2018 campaign, Stroman has bounced back in a major way, posting a 1.43 ERA in his first six starts of the season. He has yet to allow a home run and is striking out a career-best 8.6 batters per nine innings.
The 28-year-old is making $7.4 million this season and is under club control through next year. The fact he won’t simply be a rental player at the trade deadline means the Blue Jays could receive a strong package in return, assuming he stays healthy and productive on the mound.
Sanchez, 26, is another player with one more year of arbitration in front of him before he hits free agency. Injuries plagued his 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he won the American League ERA title in 2016 — the last time he put together a full season.
The right-hander owns an impressive 2.32 ERA through six appearances in 2019, but his 4.45 FIP suggests regression could be on the way. He’s also represented by agent Scott Boras, with whom the Blue Jays have had a rocky history.
If Toronto has plans of moving the pitchers this season, GM Ross Atkins will have to pull the trigger by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
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