Monday, November 25, 2013

Parting with Prospects like Stroman and Sanchez

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Everyone loves to hoard them, but nobody wants to part with them.

Prospects are one of the most coveted commodities in all of baseball. At the same time, they're also one of the most volatile.

Out of all the major professional sports, there is nothing more uncertain than a Major League baseball prospect. This is likely due to the fact that the road to show is much longer and grueling than any other professional sport.

Even when with first round picks, there are a lot of things that can go wrong in between draft day and a player's eventual debut in the MLB. For a great deal of players, for one reason or another, that day never even comes.

And yet even with the uncertainty of top prospects, often times teams display a reluctancy to moving them. Understandably so; because often times these young players represent the next phase in the life cycle of a Major League baseball team.

Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are arguably the two top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system. Two players who displayed very impressive campaigns in the Arizona Fall League and whose stock is higher than ever.

But right now, the greater need for the Blue Jays is Major League talent; namely starting pitching. That invariably means either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez or even both players would be the centrepieces involved in any sort of substantial trade.

If the Blue Jays could get a starter like Jeff Samardzija as it's been reported, and it took Aaron Sanchez to get him, as much as it pains me to say this ... the Blue Jays should probably make that trade.

Jeff Samardzija may not be the sexiest name out there on the trade front, but the fact remains he's logged close to 400 innings total the past two seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He's also under team control for two more seasons.

Odds are Aaron Sanchez is at least 2-3 years away from making his way up through the system anyway. If the Blue Jays could get a bona fide starting pitcher in return for Aaron Sanchez, it almost serves them to deal him right now.

Say Aaron Sanchez does turn out to be the starting pitcher everyone is hoping he'll be. By the time he reaches the Major Leagues, the Blue Jays window of contention could already have passed.

At the end of the 2015 season, here's the list of Blue Jays who could be long gone (either due to expiring contracts or option years which could be declined): Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow.

Part of asset management is knowing when to sell high. And this would definitely be a sell high opportunity for the Blue Jays with someone like of Aaron Sanchez. After his impressive AFL stint, his trade value might not be higher than it is this very instant.

When it comes to trading prospects, I think back to the Nestor Molina/Sergio Santos trade. At the time, Molina was one of the Blue Jays top prospects in the organization. Coincidentally, weeks prior to the trade, Nestor Molina garnered glowing reviews from the coaching staff.

Not long after, he was swapped to the Chicago White Sox for Sergio Santos. Nestor Molina isn't a complete bust by any means, but two years since the trade, he hasn't progressed more than one game beyond Triple A. The Blue Jays sold high on Molina, and so far it's worked out.

Sergio Santos has experienced his fair share setbacks as well, but at least he has contributed to the Blue Jays roster. And he's still under team control for four more seasons.

Marcus Stroman on the other hand, is a bit of a different story than Aaron Sanchez. Right now, Stroman means more to the Blue Jays than he would any other prospective organization, as many people have said he's already Major League-ready.

Marcus Stroman is one of the few Blue Jays who could either make the Opening Day roster or get called up and make an immediate impact. Judging by his results from the Arizona Fall League, Stroman seems extremely well-polished for a 22 year old.

But again, if the opportunity presents itself for the Blue Jays to fetch an elite starting pitcher and it takes someone like Marcus Stroman to secure starting pitching or perhaps a catcher or second baseman, the Blue Jays need to seriously consider it.

Were this two to three years ago and Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez were at this very point in their development, the Blue Jays would have the luxury of time to bring them up through the minor leagues.

But the Blue Jays are built to win now. They need to make the playoffs now.

And if Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman aren't going to factor into getting the Blue Jays to the postseason right now, they need to trade them for players who will.

Image courtesy of Jays Journal

4 comments:

  1. I would have much rather signed a guy like Dan Haren as a free agent, than give up prospects for a guy like Samardzija. I'm just not convinced that he will be better than average in the American League. I only give up prospects if I'm getting an ace back. Otherwise look to free agency to get a pitcher so that you don't have to mortgage the future for mediocrity.

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  2. Wow, no way I make that deal for the Shark. Why would you deal two guys like these two for a pitcher who at best represents a #3 in a rotation, and is only under control for two years? Have we learned nothing from the Ricciardi era where the cupboards were left bare? First off, most analysts are saying Sanchez's ETA is late 2014 to spring 2015, that is one year at most, not the 2-3 you say in your article. Second, why would you give up ten years of combined control on two guys who project to be very valuable, for two years of one guy who has only been starting for two years and last year had an ERA+ of 91! It makes no sense, and if he comes to TO and struggles either from injury or ineffectiveness, and the team winds up similar as last year, we have to start a rebuild from scratch rather than having a couple of higher upside guys to build around going forward. Dealing Sanchez AND Stroman for anything less than a youngish ace with years of control (3-4 years) would just be dumb.

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    Replies
    1. Lots of valid points here. In a vacuum, there's no way I'd deal away Sanchez or Stroman for Samardzija. Twelve years of control combined is nowhere even close to the 2 years left of control for Samardzija. But the Blue Jays have great sense of urgency now, and if Sanchez or Stroman aren't quite ready yet, it could be time to sell high.

      I'm leaning more towards Sanchez because it sounds like he has more upside, and Stroman could theoretically crack the Opening Day roster.

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  3. As much as it makes sense to move a guy 2-3 years away to get someone who can help now, They do that then when guys like Buehrle and Dickey are retiring we don't have that guy ready to come out of the pipeline because we moved him and the guy we drafted to replace him is 2-3 years away again. We need to stop moving our top prospects when they get to that window. Especially Stroman seeing as, IMO, he is ready to contribute to the team in a 4th-5th starter this year in a solid way.

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