Sanchez stars in commercials but not on mound in 2017

 Toronto Blue Jays fans have likely seen more of Aaron Sanchez in WestJet commercials than on the mound this season. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Toronto Blue Jays fans have likely seen more of Aaron Sanchez in WestJet commercials than on the mound this season. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Roll sound. Background. Action. Cut.

After spending so much time doing television commercials as a sideline, Aaron Sanchez has heard those words often.

As a kid growing up in Barstow, Calif. not that from the allure of Hollywood, the Blue Jays' pitcher is a natural for commercials and when his playing days are over, he might even want to act on a serious basis.

Hitting his marks on the set of commercials is something Sanchez is getting down to a tee after doing all of these commercials as a pitchman and mouthpiece for WestJet, a Blue Jays' sponsor. It’s one way of forgetting those nagging blister problems and spending so much time on the disabled list. Sanchez even acquired his Canadian ACTRA membership in the process.

Whether he's in the dugout playing with a puppy or in an airport terminal or on an airplane pitching Westjet, Sanchez seems to have the game of acting down pat, even if the director tells him to do take after take after take.

Sanchez, who also has been doing some spots for Rogers, has come to appreciate what work it takes for a production crew to put a commercial together, from his filming spot to the final editing that produces a 30-second or 60-second spot on television.

As a background performer in movies, TV productions and commercials for the last 22 years, I've grown to smile and shake my head in admiration at how the production folks do it. From the endless, long lines of thick cable to the lighting to the camera work to the allocation of work by various directors, it's a methodical approach. When you see the final spot on TV, you say, 'Nice job, guys.'

As the 2017 season grinds to a disappointing close, Sanchez has been able to use commercials as a blessing of disguise to ward off what would be boredom, annoyance and frustration at sitting on the sidelines and not being able to pitch. It would drive him crazy not pitching because of blister problems on his pitching hand. Idling, sitting through games and rehab sessions and watching his teammates play must drive him batty. What made matters worse is that he has been shut down for the remainder of the season.

Sanchez is looking at salary arbitration for the first time this off-season, although what he earns in 2018 won't be known until next March. His 1-3 record in a mere 36 innings of work in a forgettable season won't in itself be sufficient fodder for a great increase over the $535,000 he was renewed at for 2017.

But his breakout year as a sophomore in 2016 will be play a large role in what he earns. He was 15-2 with a wonderful ERA of 3.00. He produced a solid 7-6 record with a 3.22 ERA, mostly as a reliever in 2015. Back in 2014, he was 2-2 with a 1.09 ERA in 33 IP.

His terrific 2016 season should have been the impetus for a multi-year contract but it never happened. With him sitting out 90% of this season, it's very unlikely the Blue Jays' braintrust will want to talk a contract of more than one year with agent Scott Boras.

One thing for sure is that there are nine other Blue Jays like Sanchez licking their chops at the prospect of arbitration after being under club control for close to three seasons or more. Last winter, Marcus Stroman qualified as a Super 2 case with less than three years' seniority.

Stroman and stud Josh Donaldson are the two arbitration players management will look to lock up in a multi-year deal. Others factoring into the arbitration gravy train are Aaron Loup, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, Ezequiel Carrera and recently acquired Tom Koehler.

Whether all 10 are offered contracts by December’s deadline remains to be seen.

Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com