Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will be forever linked together by their pasts, both being former No. 1 draft choices of the Toronto Blue Jays who have emerged together as the team’s blue chip pitching prospects.
Now the main question that lingers for both of them is, how long will that last?
As the Blue Jays vie for their first postseason appearance in 21 seasons, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is diligently working the phones in advance of Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
His goal is to see if there is any way to sensibly improve Toronto’s hopes for the coming stretch drive without having to mortgage the team’s future, and it won’t be easy.
Teams like the Boston Red Sox, who Stroman shut down with another tidy performance in a 4-2 Toronto victory here at Fenway on Tuesday night, are in full sell mode.
Mired in last place in the American League East, the defending World Series champions are said to be dangling ace Jon Lester on the open market, but only if the price is right.
It was reported on Tuesday that the Blue Jays are interested and have been one of the more aggressive teams who have approached Boston about Lester, a three-time all-star.
Lester, 30, is in his prime and was practically unstoppable in the postseason last year, racking up a 4-1 record with a 1.56 earned run average, two of those wins occurring in the World Series.
But the price to obtain Lester would be steep as Boston is seeking a rich package in return, one that would include at least a couple of high-end prospects.
Lester was supposed to start Wednesday against Toronto in the final of the three-game series.
But following Tuesday’s contest against the Blue Jays, Boston manager John Farrell said that he was scratching Lester from that outing “in light of all the uncertainty” surrounding the pitcher’s future.
Boston recalled Brandan Workman from its Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket to start in Lester’s place.
In other words, there is the strong likelihood that Lester, who will become a free agent at the season’s end, will quite likely be wearing another club’s uniform by the time Thursday’s 4 p.m. (EST) trade deadline rolls around.
For the Blue Jays to win that bidding war it is inevitable that they would have to part with at least one of Stroman and Sanchez – and perhaps both – to secure the services of one of the game’s best pitchers.
Despite their strong play of late in which they have won four in a row and nine of their last 11 games, the Blue Jays (58-50) remain in second place in the A.L. East, 2 ½ games behind the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto is in possession of the A.L’s second wild card playoff berth by two games over the New York Yankees.
Stroman and Sanchez are well aware of all the trade talk swirling over their heads but both continue forge ahead regardless, enjoying the early success both have achieved so far this season at the major league level.
“It has been a blast,” Stroman, 23, said Tuesday night following another sublime effort over the Red Sox.
“It has been fun playing these teams, I’ve learned so much in between starts…and just really hearing things from guys like [Mark] Buehrle and [Jose] Bautista all the time, just always in my ear, so it’s really a learning experience. I’m trying to take what they say and really put it in the game. It has been a fun ride so far.”
Stroman won his fourth straight decision, handcuffing the Red Sox on one run off six hits over seven innings while striking out a career high eight batters.
Stroman, who was recalled from Triple-A for the second time this season on May 31st, is now 7-2 on the year. He has surrendered just one run over his last three starts spanning 21 innings for an 0.43 ERA.
The major league body of work for Sanchez, 22, is not as deep as he only made his major league debut last week and has all but 4.1-innings of work in his pocket.
Projected as a future starter, Sanchez is currently being utilized out of the bullpen and already has one win under his belt in relief.
Tuesday night, Sanchez followed Stroman to the mound in the seventh inning and faced one batter in Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia grounded to Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes, who ranged far to his right to scoop the ball and then made a fabulous running throw to nip the Boston runner at first.
Stroman said it has been great having Sanchez along for this major league ride.
“It’s awesome,” Stroman said. “He’s one of my best friends. It’s awesome to see him come in there in a big time moment and get a big out. Unbelievable play by Reyes.”