Just like that, the Detroit Tigers shocked their fans and national pundits—not because they re-signed pitcher Anibal Sanchez, but because of the cost they paid to do it. The reported five-year, $80 million deal (via ESPN) gives the Tigers one of the best rotations and highest-paid No. 3/4 starters in all of baseball.
Instead of signaling the end of the Tigers' work, this deal signals the need for at least two more deals before the start of the 2013 season. The Tigers are fully in win-now mode, and they're going to make deals to win now and worry about the future in the future.
The first and most obvious move revolves around Rick Porcello. While in theory it is possible—and maybe even rational—for the Tigers to hang on to Porcello as insurance against an injury, it won't happen. Porcello will be dealt. ESPN has reported that teams interested include Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Seattle, New York (Mets), San Diego and Colorado.
Pittsburgh may be the most likely destination, with relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan being the return. Hanrahan seemed to lose his ability to locate pitches last year, but he still struck out over 10 batters per nine innings.
This is a deal that has been rumored for a little while, with ESPN's Buster Onley speculating on it even before Detroit re-signed Sanchez.
I think there would be more to a trade with Pittsburgh then just Porcello and Hanrahan.
First, starters have more value than closers currently. Porcello is relatively inexpensive and is under team control until 2015, while Hanrahan is a free agent after this season. The Tigers may also ask for minor league prospect Brock Holt—a SS/2B who would give the Tigers some depth if there is an injury at the major league level.
Should the Tigers try and trade Rick Porcello now that Sanchez has been signed?
The other deal I think the Tigers will pursue involves left field.
The Tigers want a right-handed bat to platoon with Andy Dirks. I think the Tigers will chat with a former trade partner in Seattle and possibly try to acquire former Tiger Casper Wells. Wells has some power and speed and defends well. He is probably not a full-time player, but in addition to platooning with Dirks in left, Wells is capable of defending all three outfield positions.
Brennan Boesch is the player most likely to be discussed, but it's possible that both Porcello and Boesch could be included if the Tigers get back an arm or two in addition to Wells.
Signing Sanchez shows the Tigers aren't afraid to spend, and one other player they may decide to spend on is shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew was an above-average shortstop until an ankle injury two years ago. Now, two seasons removed from that injury, Drew looks like he is getting back to the player he was before. He'd give the Tigers a little bit more range at short and could be a slight improvement with the bat.
Moving Porcello and Boesch would allow Detroit to address other needs before the start of next season. The Tigers could acquire a proven closer and a plus defender who bats right-handed to platoon with Dirks.
The Tigers are in a win-now mode, and these deals would allow the Tigers to be in the best position to compete.