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Team Mexico Requests trio of Jays arms for WBC

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Team Mexico has submitted a request for Jays' pitchers Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna to use in the qualifying round for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, team Mexico has requested Jays' pitchers Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna for the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifier that will be held this upcoming March.

Held from March 17-20 in Mexicali, team Mexico will play in a qualifying tournament in a group with Germany, Nicaragua and the Czech Republic for a possible six total games for the chance to compete at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. It's a chance for three Jays' pitchers to represent their country on the world stage.

Estrada, with the longest tenure in a major league uniform, will likely be relied upon as a starter for team Mexico. Last season Estrada was at his peak as he posted a career best 3.18 ERA to go with an impressive 13-8 record. No doubt the Jays expect him to continue that success given their recent $26 million investment in the pitcher over the next two seasons. Fangraphs' Steamer projection system however expects significant regression next season to a 4.47 ERA and 0.8 WAR but then again, advanced metrics haven't done a good job at predicting Estrada in the past. He seems to be one of those players who can exceed his peripheral numbers.

With the lack of starting pitching on team Mexico, outside of Yovani Gallardo and Jorge de la Rosa, Sanchez too may be called upon to be a starter for the team. Sanchez has a track record for starting and was fairly effective last season in his 66 innings as a starter, producing a 3.55 ERA. Many would claim that he was even turning a corner before he was sidelined in June with a lat injury. Even if he's relegated to the bullpen--in the same manner that he may be with the Jays this season--Sanchez would be a strong addition to their club with his running fastball in the upper-90s that can be near unhittable in a short outing.

If team Mexico really wanted to, they could even employ Osuna in a starter's role this spring. That said, it's been more than a full year since Osuna has had any experience starting a game. In that time, he transformed himself into one of baseball's best relievers posting a 2.58 ERA and a 1.3 WAR.

Eventually, the Jays may transition Osuna into a starters' role; at just 20-years-old, it's hard to cement him into a bullpen role without discovering the true potential within his young arm.

Given his lack of starting experience, and likelihood of starting 2016 in the Jays' pen, I'd expect team Mexico to employ Osuna in their bullpen in shutdown situations alongside veteran Joakim Soria.

However, this is all contingent on whether or not the Jays will agree to loan the trio of arms to team Mexico in the middle of what will be an important Spring Training camp. Undeniably there is an element of risk associated with loaning three arms--three of your best arms--to a team that contributes absolutely nothing to your overall payroll or win-loss column. From a business standpoint, it makes almost no sense to approve this idea.

However, in a six-game tournament, it will likely only require one start from Estrada and Sanchez who will likely be on pitch limits similar to that of spring training appearances anyways. Similarly, Osuna would be limited in the amount of pitches he throws as the Jays will want to get every 99 mph bullet they can out of him this season.

In all likelihood, it shouldn't be a problem and almost certainly won't cost the Jays an injury. But with situations like this, it may be best to err on the side of caution, wouldn't you say?