The Cubs made their biggest move so far this off-season on Thursday, reportedly signing Anibal Sanchez to a five-year deal pending physical on Thursday according to reports from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports continues to report that Detroit is “very much in the mix“. As of today (December 14), it was reported that the Tigers re-signed Sanchez and the agent basically manipulated the Cubs to squeeze an extra $5MM for his client. Drag.
Sanchez, 28, made his debut with the then-Florida Marlins in 2006, where he had spent his entire career until the trade-deadline trade that sent a package that included Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit for a package that included prized pitching prospect Jacob Turner.
Sanchez owns a career 3.75 ERA (110 ERA+) and a 1.346 WHIP, including a 3.86 ERA combined between Miami and Detroit in 2012, and his 3.48 strikeouts per base on balls were the highest of his career, and his 1.267 WHIP was his best mark since his rookie season. The right-hander posted very healthy peripherals of 0.9 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9. Sanchez also owns a 1.77 career playoff ERA despite a 1-2 record.
With Garza recovering and Samardzija entering just his second season as a full-time starter, Sanchez seems poised to immediately take over as the team’s ace for the foreseeable future. With Sanchez being the third pitcher the Cubs have acquired this off-season, the Cubs rotation projects as Sanchez, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker, and Scott Feldman. Travis Wood could be the odd-man out, whether he be traded or remain in the organization in either Iowa or the bullpen.
Should the deal fall through, David Kaplan has reported that the Cubs have another free agent pitcher in line. Sanchez, assuming the deal gets done, would become the fourth pitcher the Cubs have signed to a major league contract this off-season, the others being Baker, Feldman, and Kyuji Fujikawa. Note that Chang-Yong Lim’s deal is a split contract and it is unknown whether or not he will be able to pitch in 2013 after going through his second Tommy John surgery.
UPDATE: Nightengale’s latest tweet says that the Cubs had not been informed that Detroit would have a last chance and that the Tigers have increased their offer.
UPDATE 2: Reportedly still deciding, but really looking like Cubs were being used as leverage.