Grading the Detroit Tigers' Signing of Pitcher Anibal Sanchez

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIDecember 14, 2012

Anibal Sanchez ditched the Chicago Cubs at the altar Friday by re-signing with the Detroit Tigers on a five-year deal worth $80 million (via USA TODAY).

After reportedly being on the verge of signing with the Cubs on Thursday, Sanchez got the Tigers to give him the five years he wanted and will remain part of the best starting rotation in the American League.

Overall, the deal fits both sides.

Sanchez will spend the prime of his career on a World Series-contending team. 

Up until his arrival at the trading deadline last year with the Tigers, he spent his whole career with the mediocre Florida/Miami Marlins.

Sanchez had a career ERA of 3.75 in South Florida. That ERA makes his 48-51 win-loss record deceiving. 

Sanchez cut his walks total down to 48 last year from 64 in 2011 and 70 in 2010 while pitching an average of 195 innings a year. His improved control has caused him to throw more hittable pitches, but his 1.27 WHIP in 2012 was his best since his rookie season.

For the Tigers, they secure a big piece of the puzzle that helped them win the AL pennant last year.

Yes, $16 million for someone who figures to be a No. 3 starter is an overpay. Dan Haren will get just $13 million in Washington for pretty much the same role.

That extra money, though, should not hurt the Tigers much, if at all.

While free agents who sign five-year deals often see their production tail off toward the end of the contract, Sanchez will just be 33 at the end of this deal, and the Tigers are banking on his numbers continuing to improve over the life of the contract.

As a guy who can throw strikes, eat 200 innings a season and keep his team in ballgames even when not at his best, Detroit would have been foolish not to keep him.

This also gives the Tigers the flexibility to shop Rick Porcello for a closer.

Jose Valverde pitched himself out of a job by melting down in Game 1 of the ALCS and was not allowed to close another game the rest of the way.

With the Pittsburgh Pirates dangling Joel Hanrahan out there to pick up the next building block—as ESPN's Buster Olney openly speculates—do the Tigers finish their 2013 remodel by getting Hanrahan as their closer?

The Tigers' front four starters are now under contract through 2014.

Keeping Sanchez gives them a two-year window—along with the Torii Hunter deal—to get the job done.

It may be a slight overpay, but I still think the deal deserves praise.


*Statistics via Baseball Reference.

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