Early Thursday evening, Bob Nightengale of the USA Today tweeted that starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez agreed to sign a deal with the Chicago Cubs. Not more than a half hour later, Nightengale and others were recanting that initial report saying that Sanchez had not yet signed the deal and that other teams, namely the Tigers, were still in play.
As of Thursday night, we have learned that the Cubs offer sits at five years for $75 million. According to various reports, Sanchez has given the Tigers the chance to match/beat the Cubs offer. And according to those same reports, he’ll wear the Old English “D” if they do. The Tigers were have said to have previously offered Sanchez four years.
Sanchez came to the Tigers from the Miami Marlins in a July trade. In 12 starts, he finished with a 3.74 ERA.
Currently the Tigers’ starting rotation is made up of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. Should the Tigers decide to match the Cubs’ offer, they could then turn around and trade Porcello or Smyly, perhaps for an upgrade at shortstop or a closer candidate.
The question is: is the 31-year old Anibal Sanchez worth five years and $75 million? In a word, no. At $15M per, Sanchez would be paid as a top 15-ish starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. You can spin his numbers anyway you want to, but he isn’t close to the 15th best pitcher in baseball.
It isn’t my money so it’s easy say, “pay the man.” But you can’t look at it like that. The payroll will creep north of $155 million with Sanchez on the roster, which would have given them the fourth richest roster in baseball in 2012. You have to remember that the Tigers don’t have the independent television network deal that the Yankees or Mets or Dodgers have. So to cough up $75M for a third/fourth starter is a lot of cash.
However, with the recent developments, mainly the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signing Josh Hamilton Thursday, the Tigers have to do something. Only Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers’ brass know what trade possibilities are out there. They reportedly were deep in talks with the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields before he was traded to Kansas City. If there are current discussions in which it seems reasonably likely that the Tigers can upgrade their rotation, I would hold off. But if there isn’t anything cooking, then you just may have to bite the bullet and pay Sanchez.
I don’t think he’s worth it, but it might be a necessary evil.