No, really, Anibal Sanchez has signed this time. Unlike Thursday night, where it was reported that Sanchez was a Cub, until it was immediately reported afterward by many others that he was not, he is, in fact, a Tiger as of this writing. Bob Nightengale had it first, and Jon Heyman confirms, that the Tigers are bringing back Sanchez for five years and $80 million. That's $16 million per season.
Little has changed about what this means for the Red Sox, except that now Sanchez turned out to be even more expensive. Boston apparently talked to Sanchez, but never went as high as $80 million. Seeing the price actually get that high might be part of the reason they just went for two years with Ryan Dempster on Thursday.
A reminder of what was said about this deal last night, except, again, now the numbers are even larger:
Five years was likely too much for the Red Sox, especially since they were able to sign a pitcher with comparable results over the last few years for just a two-year commitment in Dempster. The average annual value of $15 million isn't too bad, but with pitchers, it's all about limiting risk. Dempster, at his age, is a risk, but guaranteeing any pitcher significant money over a period of five years is going to be inherently riskier simply because of the length of the deal.
For what it's worth to those unconvinced, Sanchez has averaged 196 innings the last three seasons, with a 109 ERA+. Dempster, over the same stretch, is at 199 and 102, and his elbow problems are much further behind him. Sanchez has never thrown over 200 innings in a season, while Dempster's streak of five-straight campaigns with that threshold surpassed ended this year due to a short stint on the disabled list for a shoulder strain.
They're similar enough that throwing an extra three years and around $50 million at Sanchez isn't necessarily worth it, especially when there's a strong argument to be made that Sanchez only has that contract because he was the default second-best hurler of this year's free agent class. Not to throw out a Josh Beckett or John Lackey comparison, but... well, you know.