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Inbox: Why not Osuna in rotation?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from Blue Jays fans
MLB.com @gregorMLB

The Blue Jays said they want to move Aaron Sanchez to the rotation because the longer pitchers stay there, the less success they have becoming starters later in their career. Why doesn't that same argument apply to Roberto Osuna?
-- Sean H., Scarborough, Ontario

The same argument does apply, but the Blue Jays have to balance contending in 2016 with keeping an eye on the future. If Toronto was rebuilding, the decision to start Sanchez and Osuna would be a no-brainer.

The Blue Jays said they want to move Aaron Sanchez to the rotation because the longer pitchers stay there, the less success they have becoming starters later in their career. Why doesn't that same argument apply to Roberto Osuna?
-- Sean H., Scarborough, Ontario

The same argument does apply, but the Blue Jays have to balance contending in 2016 with keeping an eye on the future. If Toronto was rebuilding, the decision to start Sanchez and Osuna would be a no-brainer.

Video: MLB Tonight looks at Sanchez and Osuna's roles in '16

But in this case, the problem is that the Blue Jays' bullpen likely can't afford to lose both young right-handers. Drew Storen and Brett Cecil are proven late-inning commodities, but after that, there's a lot of uncertainty. Sanchez or Osuna would help solidify the back end of the 'pen.

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Sanchez seems more prepared to start after pitching a combined 130 1/3 innings in 2014 and 109 1/3 last year. Osuna has never thrown more than 78 innings, and a transition to the rotation would result in a strict innings limit. If Osuna began the year as a starter, he would have to be shut down in the second half, whereas Sanchez might be ready to settle in for the long haul.

If they put Sanchez in the rotation, is there any chance Drew Hutchison gets traded for relief help?
-- James F., Elmvale, Ontario

Mark Shapiro said earlier this offseason that the Blue Jays received multiple inquiries on Hutchison. But a deal still seems extremely unlikely. Hutchison's trade value took a major hit with a disappointing 2015 season, and it doesn't make sense to sell low -- especially when he fills a key depth role.

Toronto's rotation features Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and possibly Sanchez as the favorite to win the fifth spot. That leaves Chavez as the long man and first line of defense for an injury, but after that, there isn't much depth.

The Blue Jays used 12 starters last season, even though Stroman and Sanchez were the only pitchers to suffer major injuries. Previous years have shown just how fortunate Toronto was with health, and a repeat performance must be protected against. Hutchison does just that.

I know Doug Fister is a free agent, but I haven't heard much about him this offseason. He had a bad year with the velocity drop, but he was relatively good in Detroit and I don't think he would cost that much. Is there any interest in him?
-- Kurtis, Aurora, Ontario

Toronto has been linked to Fister in the past -- former general manager Alex Anthopoulos tried to make an offer before he was traded to Washington, but Detroit wasn't interested. Even though Anthopoulos has since left, his top lieutenants remain. So it's safe to assume the Blue Jays would be intrigued by Fister, but likely not at his current asking price.

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According to a recent ESPN report, Fister is seeking two years and $22 million. That's out of Toronto's range (and it does seem like a lot of money for a pitcher who lost his job in the rotation midway through the year). The Blue Jays also seems content with their current starting candidates.

Why haven't the Blue Jays paid Josh Donaldson what he deserves? By taking him to arbitration, aren't they risking tension between the team and its star player?
-- Brian C., Calgary, Alberta

Video: Donaldson recaps MVP season, Blue Jays' goals for '16

Donaldson is seeking $11.8 million, while the Blue Jays have countered with $11.35 million, and the difference of $450,000 seems paltry in today's market. Even so, a deal to avoid arbitration seems unlikely, because Toronto has followed a policy of not negotiating before a hearing once salary figures are exchanged.

Every hearing comes with at least some element of risk. The Blue Jays will make the case why their salary number is appropriate, and with that comes the danger of saying something that Donaldson might find offensive. Arbitration isn't as combative as some people might suggest, but to say there's no danger at all would be equally as foolish.

The other element at play here is that Donaldson has three years of control remaining, and he'll become a free agent at age 33. Since he was a late bloomer, there is little incentive to give up a free-agent year, while Toronto likely would insist on that in any long-term talks.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays