After Friday afternoon’s press conference announcing the hiring of Ron Gardenhire to a three-year contract as manager, Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters that Detroit would decline the club’s $16 million option on Anibal Sanchez. Instead, the team will pay the $5 million buyout.
This comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone, given Sanchez’s struggles over the last several years. He bounced between the rotation and bullpen, even switching between the major leagues and Triple-A Toledo.
When he signed his five-year contract with the Tigers in the 2012-13 offseason, Sanchez initially looked like he would prove the move to be a shrewd one. He won the American League ERA title with a 2.57 ERA and posted a 14-8 record. However, shoulder issues in 2014 signaled the beginning of a sharp decline for Sanchez.
Sanchez would throw only 126 innings in 2014, and things went quickly south after that. In fact, from 2015 to 2017, Sanchez posted the highest ERA of any starter with at least 400 innings pitched. He struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark and find any kind of effectiveness with his breaking pitches. He showed periodic flashes of good form, but nothing sustainable ever came from them.
Sanchez will enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and will be likely offered only minor league deals. As the Tigers head into a new era of rebuilding, the door to the Anibal Sanchez story in Detroit is likely closed for good.