Ilitch's win-now approach brings back Sanchez

December 13, 2012

The Detroit Tigers are still serious about winning a world championship and will continue to be as long as owner Mike Ilitch is running the show.

Originally reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today and confirmed by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers signed Anibal Sanchez to a five-year, $80 million contract Friday morning.

This came on the heels of a report Thursday night that the Chicago Cubs had offered Sanchez a five-year, $75 million contract.

Nightengale said the Tigers' original offer to Sanchez was four years and $48 million.

This signing, like Prince Fielder's last year, has Ilitch's fingerprints on it. Ilitch no doubt authorized the extra money to keep Sanchez from going to the Cubs.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said when the offseason started that they intended to try to keep Sanchez, who helped them reach the World Series last season.

The Tigers acquired Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins at the 2012 trade deadline. After a slow start, Sanchez went 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA down the stretch and 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA in the playoffs.

For his career, Sanchez is 48-51 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 145 games, 144 starts.

With Sanchez back in the fold, the Tigers will have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Sanchez as their top four starters.

That leaves the fifth spot up to either Drew Smyly or Rick Porcello, unless the Tigers try to make a trade.

Porcello turns 24 two days after Christmas and has already won 48 games in the big leagues. He went 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA this past regular season and was in the bullpen in the postseason.

Drew Smyly is about six months younger than Porcello and went 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 23 games (18 starts) in his rookie year.

This is what Dombrowski said about Porcello after the season:

"It was just not a glowing year for him, but we still like a lot of things about him. And we have to remember he's 23 years old and he's won a lot of games at the big-league level. He still needs to continue to develop his breaking ball. We continue to talk to (pitching coach) Jeff Jones about it, and Jeff still feels that when he's out in the bullpen, he has a very consistent breaking ball that he hasn't been able to bring out to the mound on a consistent basis. But it's a do-able thing. Because his velocity's back, his fastball movement is good. But he just has to develop that on a consistent basis. It's not like it's not there."

At his age, Porcello is a trade-able commodity and the Tigers still might be in the market for a shortstop with more range than Jhonny Peralta or a more experienced closer.

But it would have to be the right deal. If it were for someone as talented as Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, the price would be much higher than just Porcello. It would likely have to include top prospects like Nick Castellanos and/or Avisail Garcia.

In addition to having one of the top rotations in the league, the Tigers will have a starting lineup that includes Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and Victor Martinez at the top.

However it ends up, the Tigers will continue to be one of the favorites -- along with the Los Angeles Angels, who signed slugger Josh Hamilton on Thursday -- to win the American League.