Sanchez's success help Tigers in 2012, but could make him harder to keep for 2013 and beyond
The Tigers won't complain, but every time Anibal Sanchez pitches the way he did in Game 2 of the ALCS, it makes it harder for them to retain him as a free agent this winter. The Tigers want Sanchez back, but they worry another team will drastically overpay to get him in a weak free-agent market.
With seven shutout innings in Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night, there's no doubt that Anibal Sanchez helped the Tigers' chances in 2012.
But did he hurt their chances in 2013?
The Tigers acquired Sanchez in a July trade with the Marlins, knowing he was a free agent but willing to take the chance because they needed him to win now. But as they've gotten to know him, they've become more and more interested in signing him back this winter.
And more and more concerned that every good outing will make him too attractive to other suitors.
Sanchez is making $8 million this season, after beating the Marlins in arbitration over the winter. He has topped 195 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA each of the last three seasons, so he was already due for a significant raise through free agency, especially given this winter's weak market.
Sanchez's work in a pennant race (2.15 ERA in his final eight regular-season starts) and in the postseason (1.35 ERA in two starts) should raise his profile even more.
There's a real possibility Sanchez's price could rise to the point where the Tigers will feel they can't afford to keep him, particularly in a winter in which they'll need to find a shortstop and a closer and would also like to find an outfield bat.
Every start like Sunday's in New York makes that possibility even more real.
Sanchez seems comfortable with the Tigers, and they believe if their offer is competitive, there's a good chance he'll want to stay. The better he pitches this month, the more chance there is that another team will go even higher.
If they win, there's no doubt the Tigers will take the tradeoff.