Multiple sources are reporting that the Tigers have agreed to a five-year contract $80 million contract with free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. It looked the Cubs had outbid the Tigers as of last night, but Sanchez gave the Tigers a chance to match the Cubs offer and they did. Sanchez came to the Tigers last summer in a trade that also brought second baseman Omar Infante to the Tigers from the Marlins. He posted a 3.74 ERA and 57/15 K/BB ratio in 74 2/3 regular-season innings for Detroit. He then excelled in the post-season with a 1.77 ERA in three starts.
So, that's another big contract for owner Mike Ilitch and the Tigers. They have been looking like the Yankees of the Midwest the last couple of years and one has to wonder how much higher Ilitch can go. According to Cots Contracts, the Tigers already have $125 million committed to 11 players in 2013 and $107 million to six players in 2014. Then there is the matter of extending Justin Verlander soon and eventually Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister. Illitch has a passion to win a World Series, so they will probably be OK as long as he is around. Once his influence is gone however, the Tigers end up making some unpopular decisions.
For now though, the Tigers are in great shape entering 2013. The starting rotation is especially strong with the addition of Sanchez. Several people have referred to Sanchez as a number four starter on Tigers, but his performance says otherwise. I would say that Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer are 2A, 2B and 2C as none really stands above the others. Scherzer has the eye-popping strikeout totals and perhaps the most upside, but has not been consistently dominant.
In terms of FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement which helps to combine quantity and quality of innings pitched, the Tigers big four are all in the top 20 at Fan Graphs:
1. Verlander 20.0 WAR
16. Sanchez 12.0
18. Fister 11.8
20. Scherzer 11.1
They look almost as formidable by Baseball-Reference WAR:
1. Verlander 20
22. Fister 9.2
23. Sanchez 9.0
27. Scherzer 8.2
That's a great staff to along with a much improved starting line-up. They will now be the consensus favorites to win the World Series. Of course, once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen, but if anything gives a team an edge in winning the championship, it's starting pitching.