One of the key MLB players who has a contract expiring at the end of the 2012 season is Miami Marlins starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. The 28-year-old right-hander is currently on a one-year $8 million contract and will likely land a lucrative deal in free agency.
Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter for the Marlins in 2006, is sure to be a hot commodity. For his career, Sanchez sports a very respectable 3.71 ERA to go along with a 40-38 win/loss record.
Considering the fact that Edwin Jackson had a career ERA of 4.46 and got a one-year $11 million deal from the Washington Nationals this past offseason, it would be logical to assume that Sanchez may fall in that same pay grade.
Here are 12 MLB teams that may get in on the Sanchez sweepstakes after the 2012 season.
The new look Miami Marlins proved to fans in South Beach that they are not afraid to spend money.
Although the offseason acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell have not contributed to a hot start, it's safe to assume the Marlins will continue to spend money in order to keep certain pieces in place to contend.
Sanchez is starting his seventh MLB season this year, all of which have been spent with the Marlins.
Sanchez, from Venezuela, may choose to stay in Miami if he and manager Ozzie Guillen (also Venezuelan) develop a strong relationship this season.
If Josh Johnson continues to struggle for the Marlins, they may have no choice but to bring Sanchez back to their rotation in 2013.
Honestly speaking, when aren't the New York Yankees in the running for a big name free agent?
The trade for starting pitcher Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason looked like a key acquisition for the Yanks headed into the 2012 season. However, Pineda has started the year on the 15-day disabled list. Who knows how he will perform coming off injury for the Yankees.
CC Sabathia is the unquestioned ace of the Yankees staff. Ivan Nova is developing into a great starting pitcher in this league. Hiroki Kuroda has been solid to start the season, but he's on a one-year contract, and he's 37 years old. Outside of those three starters, the Yankees have struggled.
Phil Hughes is off to a dreadful start this season with an 0-2 record to go with a 9.00 ERA. His velocity has been down, and opposing batters are making solid contact against him.
Freddy Garcia hasn't been much better as the Yanks' fifth starter.
Bottom line, you can never have too much pitching. Outside of Sabathia, Nova and Pineda, the starting rotation for the Yankees seems pretty murky for next season. I expect them to get in on the Sanchez sweepstakes in attempt to improve the future of their pitching staff.
As with the New York Yankees, you can always expect the Boston Red Sox to be in the running for a big name free agent.
While the Red Sox have solid starting pitching by way of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, they're another team that can never have too much pitching.
The signing of John Lackey turned out to be an absolute disaster. After a mediocre year in his first season in Boston, Lackey followed it up by posting a 6.41 ERA last season.
Lackey will miss the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Daisuke Matsuzaka has had injury troubles of his own. Adding Sanchez would bring in a reliable starter to a staff that has had trouble staying healthy.
The Daniel Bard experiment so far this season, moving him from the bullpen to the starting rotation, has not looked as good as fans hoped. He still has plenty of time to turn it around, but if he continues to struggle, the Red Sox may be content putting him back in the pen.
Felix Doubront has shown flashes of being a quality MLB starting pitcher, but only time will tell how good he'll be.
There's always a possibility the Red Sox will look to add a consistent arm to bolster their rotation. In the coming offseason, Sanchez may very well be that arm.
Let's be honest, the Chicago Cubs are going to need a lot of changes to happen if they plan on being contenders in the near future.
I certainly think that Theo Epstein is up to the challenge of making the Cubs winners, but he has a lot of work to do.
Jeff Samardzija has been a pleasant surprise as a starter this season, but with Ryan Dempster's contract set to expire after this season, the Cubs will have some questions regarding their pitching staff.
The Cubs need a lot of pieces, but maybe they start with a solid pitcher like Sanchez to get the ball rolling, especially if they're unable to retain Dempster.
The Colorado Rockies have no problem hitting. Currently, the Rockies rank fourth in the league in runs and batting average.
Pitching though, well that's another story. They rank 26th in ERA and quality starts so far this season.
The Rockies simply have to address their pitching moving forward.
No disrespect to the 49-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer, but would he crack a five man rotation on any other team in the majors? Maybe, but it's unlikely.
The ace of the Rockies' staff right now is Jhoulys Chacin, who is currently 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA.
Adding Jeremy Guthrie via trade, who lost 17 games a season ago with the Baltimore Orioles, was seen as an improvement... Yikes.
I'd say the Rockies are definitely in the running for a guy like Sanchez.
The Kansas City Royals are very similar to the Colorado Rockies in that they are solid offensively, but lackluster on the mound.
The offseason trade with the San Francisco Giants that sent Melky Cabrera to the Bay Area for Jonathan Sanchez was a move that had to be made to improve the Royals' woeful pitching. However, the Royals' pitching still needs to improve.
Young guns Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are the future of this team's batting order, but for the team to succeed, they'll need more quality pitchers.
Adding another starter named Sanchez for the 2013 season would be a good move.
After a giant spending spree that brought the Los Angeles Angels Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason prior to the 2012 season, I wouldn't be surprised to see them continue their spending ways before next year.
Maybe the Halos will decide to stick with the rotation that includes Wilson, Jared Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, but this team has shocked us before.
It's unlikely that the Angels would give Sanchez a lucrative deal to come in and be the fourth or fifth starter, but you never know what can happen. They certainly have the money to strike a deal.
Magic Johnson and company will have to make some splashy moves to hold the attention of Dodgers fans.
Why not start by adding another skilled pitcher to a rotation that already has last year's NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw?
In my opinion, the Dodgers would be one of the best fits for Sanchez moving forward.
Kershaw and Matt Kemp are the two important pieces the Dodgers have at their disposal, but they'll need more than just those two guys if they plan to compete with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
I think the Dodgers need to add either two more pitchers and a bat to accompany Kemp, or two bats to accompany Kemp and a new pitcher. Either way, adding Sanchez would be a step in the right direction.
It's been a long time since the Oakland A's "Big Three" of pitchers, which included Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, were running the show.
Now the A's are certainly not a team that spends a lot of money, but Brandon McCarthy is set to become a free agent after this year, and Bartolo Colon is 38 years old. They will have to do something to address the holes that will open up in their rotation.
While the A's won't be the frontrunner to acquire Sanchez by any stretch, they did turn a lot of heads by signing Yoenis Cespedes this past offseason.
Maybe the A's will surprise their fanbase again by making a marquee signing of a solid starting pitcher.
The Philadelphia Phillies are another team not afraid to spend money on players (especially pitchers).
Cole Hamels is set to become a free agent after this season and if the Phillies can't get a deal done, they may look to other pitchers in free agency to fill the void.
I can see a team in the majors stepping in to the Hamels sweepstakes and paying him a Matt Cain type contract that the Phillies won't want to match. If that happens, Sanchez would be an adequate replacement for the lanky lefty in Philly.
I think that the St. Louis Cardinals will be looking to make a splash in the upcoming offseason after missing out on re-signing Albert Pujols.
The money that would have been invested in Pujols is probably just lying around, and if the Cardinals want to continue being yearly contenders, they shouldn't be afraid to spend.
Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse, unless signed to an extension, will be a free agent at the end of this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinals address his loss by adding a guy like Sanchez to their roster.
The Washington Nationals are on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender in the National League.
Their starting rotation so far this season has rivaled the starting five of any other team in the majors.
Steven Strasburg, who's finally healthy, is blossoming into a superstar. New addition Gio Gonzalez is a young lefty with a lot of potential, and both Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann have been stellar at the back end of the rotation to start the year.
Currently, the odd man out for next year is Edwin Jackson.
Jackson is another Nationals starter who has pitched extremely well to start the season, but he's currently on just a one-year contract. If the Nationals decide not to re-sign Jackson, they could add a formidable starting pitcher in Sanchez to look to the future.
Although the Nationals will most likely look to acquire another bat for their lineup, I wouldn't rule them out in the Sanchez sweepstakes.
So what team do you think will sign Anibal Sanchez before the start of next season? Leave your thoughts in the comments!