The Detroit Tigers have re-signed Anibal Sanchez to a five-year $80 million deal. He’s a nice pitcher. It will be a popular move after his excellent postseason, but this is a silly contract. Only four NFL players make more than him.
Greinke was the clear top pitcher available. The Dodgers splashed the cash on him. Pitchers in Sanchez’ tier below Greinke have been signing sensible, short-term contracts. Jake Peavy, Brandon McCarthy and Ryan Dempster signed two-year deals. Hiroki Kuroda and Dan Haren received one-year deals. The Tigers inked Sanchez for more money than those pitchers made and for more than twice as long to fend off an offer from the Cubs.
Presuming he maintains his form, Sanchez is a plus 2-3 win per season starter. The best-case scenario sees the Tigers paying more than $5 million per win. Basically, the Tigers are committing a Top 10-15 pitcher salary long-term to a pitcher who has never been and will not be a top 10-15 starter.
This signing fits the broader spending pattern of Mike Ilitch, since he turned his attention to the Tigers after the NHL instituted a salary cap. Credit him for being willing to devote resources to build a winner, though its hard to argue the Tigers’ top five payroll could not have been spent more prudently.
However, if you are a Tigers fan for the next couple years, you have a deep rotation (Sanchez is the fourth starter?) and two of the best hitters in baseball in a weak division. It’s not your money.
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