8:16am: The Cubs are out on Sanchez and the Tigers look like they'll win the bidding for him, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). Heyman suggests that the Tigers are positioned to sign Sanchez, barring a last-minute mystery team.
FRIDAY, 8:03am: The Cubs have increased their offer to $77.5MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Tigers have offered the right-hander $75MM.
THURSDAY, 10:45pm: Sanchez won't make a decision tonight and will continue talking with both the Cubs and Tigers tomorrow, reports Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
6:10pm: If the Tigers do top the Cubs' offer, USA Today's Bob Nightengale says Sanchez will sign with Detroit, thus seemingly shutting the Cubs out of a chance to counter. The Tigers had offered a four-year contract to Sanchez, Nightengale says, and CBS Sports' Danny Knobler adds that Detroit was believed to be hesitant to go to five years for Sanchez (both Twitter links).
5:57pm: The Tigers are being given a "last chance" to match the Cubs' offer, reports Bob Nightengale. The Cubs thought they had a done deal with Sanchez.
5:08pm: The deal is not yet complete, as Sanchez's agent Gene Mato tells CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that he is still talking to other teams. Sources tell Heyman that the Tigers are still "very much in [the] mix." (both links to Twitter)
4:50pm: The Cubs have given their rebuilding process a major boost by agreeing to sign free agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez to a five-year contract, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal could be worth $75MM, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who said earlier today that the two sides were close to an agreement. The contract will become official once Sanchez passes a physical. Sanchez is represented by Mato Sports Management.
The signing is a surprise given that the Cubs were thought to be at least a year away from pursuing big-ticket free agents, instead signing such low-cost/high-upside pitchers as Scott Baker and Scott Feldman and signing Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa this winter. Yet, it was Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and company who outbid five other teams (including the Tigers) for Sanchez's services, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). Sanchez, 28, is young enough to be a key rotation piece for the next contending Cubs team, and Chicago now has an ace atop what looks like a very solid rotation that also includes Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and one of Baker or Feldman.
Sanchez was ranked as the fourth-best free agent available by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, and the second-best pitcher behind only Zack Greinke. The righty has posted a 3.70 ERA, an 8.1 K/9 rate, a 2.89 K/BB ratio and an average of 196 innings over the last three seasons with the Marlins and Tigers, also pitching very well in three postseason starts for Detroit last October.
This post was first published on December 13th, 2012.