8:19pm: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press has some further details on how the contract works. Essentially, it’s structured like a non-guaranteed arbitration deal. Sanchez would receive about $410K if cut loose on or before the 16th day of camp or around $615K if he makes it past the first date but is then released before March 29th.
4:31pm: The Twins have reportedly reached agreement on a split MLB contract with veteran righty Anibal Sanchez. He can earn $2.5MM if he makes the roster out of camp but is guaranteed only $500K in the deal, which also includes up to $2.5MM in incentives.
Soon to turn 34, Sanchez is coming off of a dreadful three-year run with the Tigers. He produced in the first two seasons after signing with Detroit, but has limped to a 5.67 ERA in the 415 2/3 innings since the start of 2015.
Given the struggles, it came as no surprise when the Tigers paid Sanchez a $5MM buyout rather than picking up his 2018 option at a $16MM price tag. At that time, it seemed questionable at best whether the veteran would even merit a major league contract. After all, despite Sanchez’s excellent track record — he carried a 3.53 ERA through his first 1,177 MLB innings — it has been some time since he has been consistently effective.
In particular, the long ball has become a persistent problem. Compared with his better, prior campaigns, Sanchez has both allowed more flyballs and given up more dingers on the balls that have gone skyward off of opponents’ bats. The issues reached an apex in 2017, wen he coughed up 2.22 HR/9 on a 19.3% HR/FB rate. Sanchez also permitted hard contact at a career-high 37.4% rate.
On the positive side, Sanchez has continued to post solid strikeout and walk numbers. He maintained a typical 9.8% swinging-strike rate in 2017 and finished with 8.9 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9. Those levels hardly stand out in this age of whiffs, but do suggest he could be effective if he can regain control over the batted-ball outcomes.
Sanchez was tagged for a .354 BABIP. While the volume of hard contact suggests that may have been deserved to an extent, Statcast numbers suggest there was some poor fortune. The veteran permitted a .386 wOBA but carried a .332 xwOBA, making for a rather massive spread.
Given the nature of the contract, Sanchez is hardly guaranteed a rotation spot. And though the addition changes the depth picture, it doesn’t seem that it’ll prevent the organization from pursuing a more significant starter, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN notes on Twitter.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported the agreement (Twitter links). Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN first noted the connection on Twitter and added additional details on Twitter. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reported that the deal was not guaranteed (via Twitter).