Detroit Tigers: Time to Move Anibal Sanchez


Could someone take Anibal Sanchez in trade? The right-handed pitcher has had outstanding seasons with the Detroit Tigers and the Florida Marlins, but he completely fell apart in 2015. He is currently signed through 2017 with an $80 million contract, but there has to be someone who would take the remaining $33 million from Detroit. Red Sox? Cubs? Dodgers? Anyone? 

Jul 28, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sanchez proved himself a useful pitcher with a deceptive release, a low-90’s fastball, a tricky cutter, and a curve that brings swings and misses. In 2013, he finished fourth in the Cy Young award voting, losing out to his teammate Max Scherzer. During that same year, he led the league with the lowest American League ERA of 2.57. His 2014 season was decent, but he spent time on the DL with shoulder issues and pectoral muscle strains. He fell apart in 2015, leading the league in home runs allowed with 29, while spending time on the DL with rotator cuff issues.

His recurring injuries make him a gamble in the Tigers’ starting pitching rotation. He has had frequent issues with his right shoulder and elbow. His current problem with his rotator cuff could result in major surgery that could take several months of recovery and therapy. His status in the rotation remains unsure, but his status on the payroll is certain. If the Tigers could trade him, it opens up a valuable spot that could be filled by a pitcher or two with shoulders that have not degraded like Sanchez’s has.

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Unfortunately, a trade does seem unlikely, so in order to protect Sanchez’s shoulder and still use him on the mound, it might be time to put him in the bullpen. Unlike Justin Verlander, who gets stronger as he moves through the innings, Sanchez pitches best in his early innings. His contract would make him an expensive option in the bullpen, but it would put him to use. He could even fill a role like Alex Wilson, coming in for several innings when the game is falling apart. Giving Sanchez a unique role could keep his shoulder from completely disintegrating.