Detroit Tigers: Why the Team Shouldn’t be Concerned About Losing Anibal Sanchez

By Chris Katje
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have offered a five year deal to free agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez. The starting pitcher, who split time with the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers in 2012, has been one of the prized free agents this off-season. After the offer from the Cubs, it appears Sanchez is giving the Tigers a chance to match the offer from the Cubs.

The Tigers should not match the offer given to Sanchez by Chicago. Despite being a young and experienced starting pitcher (28 years old), Sanchez is about to earn way more than what he is worth. Sanchez is considered a great starting pitcher, but in Detroit he would be the number three or four starter, something not worth the money.

Detroit traded key prospects Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn to acquire Sanchez and Omar Infante around the MLB Trade Deadline. The trade helped the Tigers clinch the AL Central and make it to the 2012 World Series. However, Sanchez is not worth locking up for five seasons at $15 million per year.

Sanchez’s stats are uninspiring, but hard to translate with a poor Marlins team behind him. Over his career, Sanchez holds a record under .500 in 145 games played. Sanchez also has a 3.75 era and 1.35 whip. With the Tigers last season, Sanchez was 4-6 with a 3.74 era in 12 starts, so it doesn’t appear having a good team helped the Venezuelan pitcher put up better statistics.

Without Sanchez, the Tigers starting rotation will likely look like this (2012 stats):

  • Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 era)
  • Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 era)
  • Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45 era)
  • Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.59 era)
  • Drew Smyly (4-3, 3.99 era)

This rotation was shaky down the stretch, leading the Tigers to make the deal with the Marlins. However, Porcello is due for a breakout season and is still being targeted by many teams in a deal that could see the Tigers use a different pitcher. Smyly played in 23 games, posting a winning record in his first major league season. In the postseason, Smyly pitched extremely well out of the bullpen. In four games, Smyly had a 1-0 record in four innings. His postseason era was 2.25, while his whip was 1.25.

If the Tigers do not feel comfortable with the back end of Porcello and Smyly, they have other options in free agency. One option is Kyle Lohse, who is older but posted an impressive record for the St. Louis Cardinals last season. Lohse is expected to be looking for around $10 million a season, something more affordable than the $15 per season Sanchez has been offered. Other cheap options or minor league players could also be considered.

One big worry for the Tigers that should be on their mind is the free agency of star pitcher Verlander in two years. With the way this season’s free agency for pitchers has been going, the Tigers would likely lose Verlander to another team. The Tigers should lock Verlander up in a long term deal before the season starts.

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