Recently Jon Paul Morosi reported that Anibal Sanchez has set his contract parameters: somewhere around 6 years and $90 million. As much as I trust Morosi for Hot Stove news (which is “not at all”), this still presents a problem. With the Tigers spending so much on Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Victor Martinez, is shelling out nearly an additional 100 million dollars on a pitcher who lines up as their fourth starter a good idea?
It sure doesn’t seem prudent for Mike Illitch to dish out that much, but he’s spending money like a college kid at Taco Bell recently. The funny part about this scenario is not the contract itself: it works quite well in terms of Sanchez being a 28-year old pitcher in the prime of his career coming off of an impressive playoff performance. The problem is his role on the Tigers with this deal.
Justin Verlander is the undisputed ace of the staff. Max Scherzer and Doug Fister continually vie for the role of Number Two, and both appear to be realizing their vast potential over the course of the last few seasons. Sanchez, although a very talented pitcher, does not seem to be better than any of those three pitchers. Again, spending CJ Wilson money on a fourth pitcher just doesn’t seem to be the best course of action.
Yet retaining Sanchez’s services appears to be a do-or-die scenario. The Dodgers have recently admitted that they want to spend big bucks to get talented, big-name players on their squad, so they seem to have no qualms with snatching up Sanchez. The Red Sox have proven in the past to be more than willing to hand over big contracts to pitchers, and are in dire need of adding a quality starter this offseason. And let’s not forget the Angels, who have parted ways with Ervin Santana and Dan Haren recently, and might lose Zack Greinke to free agency. Arte Moreno has shown his willingness to spend big and now seems to need some solid starters. Unless the Tigers really connected to Sanchez on a personal level, those teams can offer him much more than Detroit could be able to.
The issue that looms the biggest over this is one that would reflect negatively on Dave Dombrowski. DD gave up the Tigers’ top minor league pitching prospect in the deal that brought over Omar Infante and Sanchez. If Anibal doesn’t resign and Jacob Turner ends up becoming a good, God forbid great, pitcher for the Marlins, doesn’t that trade then seem wasteful? Granted, it’s hard for anyone to properly gauge what’s going to become of any prospect dealt – would the Tigers be trading a Jair Jurrjens or an Andrew Miller (or even a Smoltz) – but the fact that they’d be seemingly be giving away one of their best minor leaguers for a rental player doesn’t sit well.
This whole contract issue should be very interesting as it unfolds. Let’s just hope it’s one that unfolds well in the Tigers’ favor.