With Hunter signed, Tigers' next priority is to keep Sanchez

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

When the Tigers finished talking with Torii Hunter, Mike Ilitch had a question.

"Where do we stand with [Anibal] Sanchez?" the Tigers owner asked his baseball decision-makers.

In other words, they still want him.

The Tigers committed $26 million of Ilitch's money to sign Hunter. They still have more available to spend, although they can't be sure it will be enough to keep Sanchez.

As CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported last week, Sanchez has let some teams know he's looking for $90 million over six years, and told at least one team he wants $100 million over seven years.

It's unlikely the Tigers would go that high. Then again, with Ilitch as owner, the Tigers have learned to never say never.

Already, barely two weeks into a postseason that began with their Game 4 loss to the Giants, the Tigers have addressed their top priority. Hunter will take over in right field, and also in the second spot in the lineup.

If they spent no more money and made no more additions, the Tigers could open up with an outstanding lineup (Austin Jackson, Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Andy Dirks, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante) and a solid rotation (Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly).

The next step is to try to sign Sanchez. If they don't get him, multiple Tigers officials say, they won't go after any big-name, big-money free-agent pitcher. Instead, the plan is to stick with Porcello and Smyly, while adding to their rotation depth behind that.

The Tigers may add to the bullpen, but in meetings this week they confirmed an earlier decision not to pursue a free-agent closer. Hard-throwing Bruce Rondon will be given first shot at the job.

The only other move the Tigers could make would be to trade Peralta and look for an upgrade at shortstop. However, general manager Dave Dombrowski insisted last week that shortstop is "not a priority."

The first priority was signing Hunter, and they got that done.

The next priority is signing Sanchez.

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