Sanchez, Tigers agree to five-year, $80 million deal

By Andrew Simon /12/14/12 11:27 AM ET

For a while on Thursday night, it seemed the Tigers would be losing a significant piece of their starting rotation, as reports surfaced that the Cubs had signed right-hander Anibal Sanchez.
Those reports proved premature. Sanchez and agent Gene Mato continued talking to the Tigers, who on Friday agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal, according to a report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
The Tigers have not confirmed the deal.
Sanchez rejoins Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer to lead the Detroit rotation, which he bolstered after a July 23 trade from the Marlins. The Tigers, who surrendered highly touted pitching prospect Jacob Turner and catcher Rob Brantly in the deal, were thought to be one of the front-runners for Sanchez. Early in the offseason, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski expressed strong interest in a reunion.
"I know it's not going to be an easy pursuit by any means," Dombrowski said at the time. "I'd love to have Anibal Sanchez back if we could."
But Dombrowski also said the club would "be fine with" using 23-year-olds Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly to fill out its starting five, should Sanchez not return. Porcello has made 120 starts for the Tigers over the past four years, while Smyly posted a 3.99 ERA in 23 games -- including 18 starts -- as a rookie. Now one of those pitchers could slide to the bullpen or become trade bait.
A native of Venezuela, Sanchez will turn 29 in February. He went 9-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 31 starts last season, then posted a 1.77 mark in three postseason outings as Detroit advanced to the World Series.
Sanchez was signed by the Red Sox in 2001 and debuted with the Marlins in '06, throwing a no-hitter that September. After some earlier injury problems, Sanchez has notched 95 starts over the past three seasons, going 30-34 with a 3.70 ERA and averages of 8.1 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings.
He made his Tigers debut on July 28 at Toronto and proceeded to surrender at least five earned runs in three of his first four games before rebounding over his final eight. Sanchez's 2.15 ERA in 54 1/3 innings during that span helped his new club overcome the White Sox for the American League Central title.
Although Sanchez lost two of his three playoff starts, including Game 3 of the World Series, he pitched into the seventh inning and allowed two runs or fewer in each one.