Washington Football

Tigers invest $80 million in RHP Anibal Sanchez

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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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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Red Tails as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Red Tails.

Case for: Washington Red Tails

“Red Tails” might’ve been the favorite among fans and others on social media before the “Red Wolves” hype train started gaining traction.

The origin of the name comes from the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black pilots in the United States military. A group of Tuskegee Airmen known as the Red Tails -- because of the paint on the tails of their planes -- made up the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II. The Red Tails had one of the lowest loss records of all escort fighter groups.

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON REDTAILS UNIFORM, HELMET DESIGNS

Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing, an Alexandria, Virginia-based marketing agency, thinks the history of the Red Tails provides an opportunity for Washington to attach itself to a powerful story, particularly in a time where conversations about social justice have been amplified.

“The Red Tails is an incredible opportunity for [Washington]," Nierenberg said. "I don’t know of it as a major team name. I think that it allows them at this time to take a leadership role in this time of changing of understanding of social justice. And I think that their recognition of the Red Tails could be a dramatic, great first step for them as a brand that I think is overcoming… there’s a great story behind it. They can run with that story that already exists.

"And at the time to actually capitalize on this, you can get a lot of wind beneath your wings on that one. I think there’s a lot of energy there with society. I think this town would wrap their arms around it. As a company and as a team, as an ownership group, recognizing this incredible story could be powerful forever. And it’s a fighter group, it’s a fighter, it’s an overcoming odds -- there’s a tremendous story there, and I think that with today’s society doing what it is, I think it could be an incredible time for them to take advantage of this groundswell of energy. And it’s not going backwards, it’s only going forward, so I think they could be in a very positive position.”

RELATED: WASHINGTON'S NEW NAME MAY BE MORE FOR FUTURE FANS THAN CURRENT ONES

Additionally, the Red Tails name allows the team to maintain its "warrior" ethos, according to Matt White, president of the marketing and ad agency WHITE64. White also likes that the name provides the opportunity for Washington to stick with its traditional burgundy and gold color scheme. 

"Graphically, the [old] logo on the helmet had the feathers. So you could certainly see how that could be very consistent," White said. "And certainly with the colors of the uniform."

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Most marketing experts have stressed the advantages of a team's name drawing a connection to the city it plays in. While Red Tails doesn't immediately evoke thoughts of Washington, Tim Derdenger, assoicate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, thinks there's a strong enough connection for it to work.

"It’s a strong choice for multiple reasons. One being that it relates to D.C. and the military," Derdenger said. "It keeps the team colors. If you keep 'red' in [the name], it has to be the right name. And I think Red Tails is one of those right names. It has a strong connection to the city, to the military, the colors, it still can pay homage to the team, the players of the past with keeping the 'red' name in there. It should be a strong candidate.”

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