ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a five-year, $80-million deal with right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez, according to agent Gene Mato.
The sides reached an agreement on Friday morning, Mato said. The Tigers declined to comment.
The Tigers typically will not announce a signing until the player has passed a physical. New Tigers rightfielder Torii Hunter tweeted: “Glad Anibal Sanchez back with the Tigers. Congrats Anibal. Now lets go get that ring.”
If the numbers are true, Sanchez’s contract is bigger than that of ace Justin Verlander, who signed a five-year, $79.5-million contract three years ago.
The deal is similar to the one C.J. Wilson signed with the Los Angeles Angels last off-season.
Early in free agency, it seemed like the Tigers might be content to go with Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly in their rotation and not get into a bidding war for Sanchez. They reportedly first offered Sanchez a four-year, $48-million deal.
Sanchez, 28, was considered the No. 2 pitcher available on the market, behind Zack Greinke, who recently agreed to a six-year, $147-million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It appeared Thursday as if Sanchez was close to signing a reported five-year, $77.5-million offer from the Chicago Cubs. The Tigers were said to be offering $75 million at that time.
Sanchez has a 48-51 career record with a 3.75 ERA and 733 strikeouts in 869 innings over seven seasons in the majors. He showed why he’s viewed as a No. 2 starter after posting a 1.77 ERA in three postseason starts for the Tigers this year.
Sanchez came to the Tigers from the Miami Marlins in a July trade along with second baseman Omar Infante. The Tigers gave up prospects Rob Brantly, Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn and swapped draft picks.
Sanchez was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 regular-season starts for the Tigers.
With Sanchez locked up, the Tigers could choose to move Rick Porcello in a trade to acquire an experienced closer. Buster Olney of ESPN speculated that the Tigers could deal Porcello to Pittsburgh for closer Joel Hanrahan. ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted on Friday that the San Diego Padres also are interested in Porcello.