Free agent pitcher Aaron Sanchez threw in front of “about 20 teams” last week, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). This is the first we’ve heard of the right-hander since the Astros non-tendered him in December. He hasn’t pitched since undergoing surgery to address a tear in his right shoulder capsule last September.
Shoulder surgeries can present a difficult road back for pitchers, but Sanchez will be an interesting reclamation project this offseason. He only turned 28 in July, so he’s still got youth on his side. Prior to his injury, Sanchez was working in the 93-94 MPH range with high-end spin on his curveball. Those promising pitch characteristics prompted the Astros to acquire him alongside Joe Biagini from the Blue Jays for Derek Fisher at last year’s trade deadline. That deal almost immediately turned sour for Houston, with Sanchez going down after four starts and Biagini struggling immensely. Neither player remains in the organization.
It’s been a rough few years for the former supplemental first-round draftee. Sanchez looked like one of the top young arms in the sport in 2016, when he made 30 starts with a 3.00 ERA/3.55 FIP for Toronto. Since the start of 2017, he’s managed just a 5.29 ERA across 272.1 innings, thanks mostly to a drastic uptick in walks. Those struggles, combined with the shoulder surgery, will likely limit Sanchez to minor-league offers or perhaps a small one-year deal this winter. There’s little harm for interested teams in giving him an opportunity in spring training, though.
Speculatively speaking, trying him out in the bullpen could be particularly intriguing. For one, shorter stints might give Sanchez a better opportunity to stay healthy. He has also had some difficulty working through opposing lineups multiple times in his career, which a relief role would obviously mitigate.