The Nationals have signed veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. It’s a minor league deal, reports Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. If selected, he’ll be paid $2MM, with $1.5MM in performance bonuses available, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
A veteran who made his MLB debut back in 2006, Sanchez had his best years from 2010 to 2014, making 145 starts in that time, covering 895 innings with an ERA of 3.43. Unfortunately, things went south from there, with his ERA growing to 4.99, 5.87 and 6.41 over the next three seasons.
At that point, it was fair to wonder if his career was over, but he made an incredible comeback in 2018. After signing a minor league deal with the Braves, Sanchez threw 136 2/3 innings for Atlanta with a 2.83 ERA, parlaying that into a two-year, $19MM contract with the Nats. In 2019, he kept the comeback going with 166 innings of 3.85 ERA ball, and then 18 more innings in the postseason with an ERA of 2.50, helping the team on their remarkable World Series run.
The comeback ran out of steam in 2020, however, as Sanchez logged 53 innings in the shortened campaign with an ERA of 6.62. In 2021, he continually held showcases for interested clubs but ultimately never found a deal to his liking and missed the entire season. Yesterday, he held yet another showcase that was apparently impressive enough for him to land an offer just ten minutes later, per Heyman. Now Sanchez is back where he was four years ago, signed to a minor league deal and hoping to show he’s still got something left in the tank.
The Nationals would surely love for him to succeed, as they have lots of uncertainty in their rotation. Stephen Strasburg will be at the front of it if healthy, but that’s a big “if” after only throwing 26 2/3 innings over the past two years. Patrick Corbin will have another slot, but he had an ERA of 5.82 last year. Erick Fedde’s ERA was 5.47 in 2021. Joe Ross just had a bone spur removed from his throwing elbow and will be set back six to eight weeks, per Dougherty. Beyond that, the rotation options are unproven youngsters like Josiah Gray, Paolo Espino, Joan Adon, Seth Romero, Josh Rogers and Gerardo Carrillo. As the club endures a rebuild after last year’s selloff, they will surely want to have opportunities for those youngsters to show what they’re capable of. But they will likely also have the need for a veteran like Sanchez to take some starts and log some innings as well.