According to a report by San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Giants beat reporter Susan Slusser late on Tuesday night, the Giants have agreed to a one-year, $4 million agreement with free-agent RHP Aaron Sanchez. Per her report, the deal includes an additional $2.5 million in incentives. The move brings to fruition a deal that our own Jeff Young speculated about back in November.
Sanchez was once one of the biggest pitching prospects in baseball. Drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays in the supplemental first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Sanchez quickly ascended through the minor leagues and made his big-league debut at just 22. Less than two years later, in 2016, he finished seventh in American League Cy Young voting and was selected to the first All-Star game of his career. Still in his early twenties, Sanchez seemed poised for stardom.
SF Giants sign former All-Star RHP Aaron Sanchez
However, a combination of injuries and worse strand luck took their toll on his performance. After two and a half disappointing seasons, the Blue Jays traded Sanchez, Cal Stevenson, and reliever Joe Biagini to the Houston Astros for outfield prospect Derek Fisher. In Houston, Sanchez allowed just one run across 11 innings in his first two starts before struggling in two more. Then, in September of 2019, Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that has prevented him from appearing in a game since.
Slusser noted that Sanchez threw a bullpen session for MLB teams last week and touched 98 miles per hour. Early in his career, Sanchez’s fastball averaged around 96 miles per hour, consistently touching the upper nineties. In the years leading up to his injury, though, his velocity steadily declined.
There’s no denying Sanchez’s recent struggles. From 2017-2019, Sanchez completed just 272.1 innings across 55 starts and posted an abysmal 5.29 ERA (5.12 FIP). His walk and strikeout rates were both noticeably below average (4.8 walks and 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings) as well.
Nevertheless, the Giants clearly believe they can help him rekindle some of his early-career success. While Slusser’s report suggests he will begin the season in the starting rotation, it’s not out of the question that Sanchez could be moved to the bullpen later on if he struggles. That obviously would be far from an ideal outcome, but this front-office has found success following just that path with Drew Pomeranz.
Sanchez is just 28-years old and could easily become a part of the SF Giants’ future with a bounce-back season. Set to have plenty of money come off the books next offseason, the team could easily sign him to an extension Sanchez. Of course, he could also become a valuable trade chip at the deadline. First, before either occurs, he’ll have to perform on the field. He will join a boom or bust group of starters that is already set to include offseason signings Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood.