Tigers invest $80 million in RHP Anibal Sanchez


Tigers invest $80 million in RHP Anibal Sanchez

DETROIT (AP) Anibal Sanchez hadn't gone anywhere, really, and yet here he was getting a big ``welcome back'' from Detroit Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.

``It's nice to have you back in that jersey again,'' Dombrowski said Monday to his right-hander.

It wasn't cheap.

Detroit's deal with Sanchez is worth $80 million over five years, a person familiar with it told The Associated Press last week on condition of anonymity because terms weren't announced. The team said it has an option for a sixth season.

That's the price of doing business in the free agent market for pitchers.

The Los Angeles Dodgers recently gave Zack Greinke a $147 million, six-year deal - the biggest for a right-hander in baseball history - and Detroit is satisfied with what it had to spend on Sanchez, perhaps the second-best pitcher on the market.

``He's in the prime of his career,'' Dombrowski said.

The 28-year-old Sanchez helped Detroit reach the World Series this year. He had a 1.77 ERA in 20 1-3 innings over three postseason starts, but was 1-2 because the Tigers were shut out in each of his losses.

``We almost get the ring,'' he said. ``Now, I know we got a pretty good team.''

Detroit has been good enough to get into the playoffs the last two years. The Tigers hope to improve enough to take the next step and win their first World Series since 1984 thanks to a couple major moves and a standout player's comeback.

They attempted to fill a void in the field and the lineup, just in front of sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, by signing outfielder Torii Hunter to a $26 million, two-year contract. They are expecting designated hitter Victor Martinez to be healthy at spring training in a couple months after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

And, Detroit kept its four-man rotation together by signing Sanchez.

As much as the Tigers are paying him, Sanchez had at least one team - other than the Chicago Cubs, the runner-up to signing him - offer him more at the winter meetings than he eventually got to stay in the Motor City.

``At the end, what do you do with a lot of money if it's not where you want to be?'' Sanchez asked.

Detroit acquired Sanchez in July from Miami along with second baseman Omar Infante for right-hander Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. After a slow start with the Tigers, he pitched well in key games to help them win division titles in consecutive years for the first time since the 1935 and 1934 seasons with a 2.15 ERA over his last eight starts.

``Once he settled in and got a chance to get settled, he was one of the best pitchers in the league,'' Dombrowski said.

Sanchez is 48-51 with a 3.75 ERA since making his major league debut with the Marlins in 2006. He was 9-13 last year and 8-9 the previous year following a career-best, 13-win season in 2010.

While those numbers aren't impressive, the digits on his contract are because he's on the right side of supply-and-demand economics in baseball.

The Tigers didn't really want to offer Sanchez as long of a contract as he signed, but had to do so in order to keep him around.

``Pitching is a risky business,'' Dombrowski said. ``It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it is.''

What's also a reality is righty Rick Porcello might get traded any day because he could be deemed expendable with lefty Drew Smyly seemingly situated well to be the team's fifth starter.

Dombrowski said he's in trade talks with ``numerous'' clubs because they know the Tigers have six starters and are willing to deal one of them for the right price, perhaps a right-handed hitter to platoon with left-handed hitting outfielder Andy Dirks.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.