Cincinnati Reds: Should a pair of Blue Jays’ starters be trade targets?

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 5: Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by Marcus Stroman #6 as he exits the game in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Houston Astros on June 5, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 5: Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by Marcus Stroman #6 as he exits the game in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Houston Astros on June 5, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Though not being shopped, both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez could be on the trading block if the price is right. Should the Cincinnati Reds pursue one of the Blue Jays’ pitchers?

A recent report suggests that the Toronto Blue Jays may be willing to trade either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez, both potential top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. Should the Cincinnati Reds kick the tires on a potential trade for one of the Jays’ starters?

Neither Stroman or Sanchez set the baseball world on fire last season. Each player had only 4 wins on the season and both struggled with injury. Sanchez played in 20 games and Stroman in just 19. Sanchez’s ERA was 4.89, while Stroman’s soared to 5.54.

So, you may be asking, why in the world would the Cincinnati Reds want to trade for one of those guys? Because just last year, Stroman started 33 games, went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA over 200-plus innings. His ERA+ was 145 while striking out 164 batters. That is ace-level stuff from Stroman.

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In 2016, Sanchez went 15-2 in 30 starts for the Blue Jays. He had 161 strikeouts and an ERA+ of 142 and a WHIP of 1.167. His HR9 was 0.7 and he pitched nearly 200 innings. Sanchez only started 8 games in 2017 due to blister and finger issues.

Blue Jays’ General Manager, Ross Atkins, was asked about the potential of trading either Stroman or Sanchez. His answer, while not a definitive assurance that either player will be traded, did not remove all doubt either. Here’s what Atkins had to say via Sportsnet:

"“I think there are a lot of teams that would love to have either guy.”"

Call me crazy, but that sounds like either Stroman and Sanchez are available for the right price. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet suggests that because both Stroman and Sanchez’s contracts are up after the 2020 season, the Blue Jays might be motivated to move either starter before their value decreases. Further muddling their value is their injury plagued 2018 campaigns.

The Blue Jays play in the uber-competitive AL East with the New York Yankees and the World Champion Red Sox. The Jays’ brass knows all too well, that they need all the stars to align in order for them to be completive in the next two years.

What would it take for the Cincinnati Reds to acquire either Stroman or Sanchez? Davidi suggests that the Blue Jays’ biggest need is pitching. Could some combination of Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, or Cody Reed, along with a top prospect like Tony Santillan or Vladimir Gutierrez be enough to entice Toronto to relinquish one of their talented starters?

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If Sanchez or Stroman were able to return to form and be under team control for the next two years, they’d provide a solid upgrade to the Reds’ rotation without sacrificing much in return. Some of the other trade targets like Noah Syndergaard and Corey Kluber would require crazy compensation from the Cincinnati Reds, something I doubt the team is willing to do.