Anibal Sanchez may or may not be a Tiger by this time tomorrow, but negotiations are nearing an end. Sanchez is on the verge of a contract agreement with the Chicago Cubs, but the Detroit Tigers have been given a final chance to match the offer.
Late this afternoon Fox Sports' Ken Rosnethal tweeted the Cubs were in serious negotiations with Sanchez, a deal in the range of $75 million over five years on the table. Bob Nightingale of the USA Today quickly followed up with a tweet claiming Sanchez had come to terms with the Cubs.
A little before 7 PM, Nightingale retracted what he had posted earlier, saying the Cubs believed a deal was done, but the Tigers had been given a chance to match the Cubbies' offer.
Nightingale then reported the Tigers have bumped up their dollar offer to Sanchez, the Cubs having no idea Detroit was going to be given defacto right of first refusal.
Sanchez's agent, Gene Mato, confirmed the Cubs have not signed his client. Mato has told Nightingale "He has not decided. Negotiations are ongoing.''
Sanchez was originally looking for a long-term deal worth $90 to $100 million. Despite the Tigers wanting to keep Sanchez, those numbers were far too rich for the team's blood. The Cubs are leading in the clubhouse with an offer of $75 million, a number the Tigers just may be willing to meet.
So where do things stand? Your guess is as good as your corner national baseball pundit. But let's break it down.
Despite agreeing to the Cubs' offer, it appears Sanchez would prefer to stay in Detroit. Why else would Sanchez take what the Cubs believed to be a done deal back to the Tigers?
There's also the fact the Cubs are bottom-feeders in the standings, while the Tigers are coming off a World Series appearance. Sanchez would have to deal with an undue amount of pressure in Chicago, coming in as a high priced free agent, a top of the rotation savior. While in Detroit, Sanchez would be an excellent middle of the rotation guy, a cog in what could be considered the best rotation in baseball. Most of the pressure would be on the very broad, very capable shoulders of Justin Verlander.
So all things being equal between the two teams, it's a no-brainer Sanchez would prefer to remain a Tiger.
So it's entirely possible the Cubs were mere pawns, used as leverage in order to squeeze a few more bucks out of the Tigers.
At this point, the ball is in the Tigers' court. If they can beat (or even match) the Cubs' contract offer, Sanchez will remain a member of the Detroit Tigers starting rotation.