The Tigers welcomed him back but Anibal Sanchez has never really been away, although the “welcome home” was not a cheap one in Detroit.
With the marker for starting pitchers being set by the Zack Greinke deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers ($147 million over six years), Detroit were always likely to have to spend big on Sanchez, perhaps the second-best pitcher on the market.
The deal worth $80 million sees Sanchez return to Detroit for a five-year deal, which includes a $5 million buyout if the Tigers decline his option. If Detroit exercises his option for 2018, he would make $16 million that year.
Sanchez's signing bonus is $4 million. He'll receive $8 million in 2013, $15 million in 2014 and $16 million a year from 2015-17. That's the price of doing business in the free-agent market for pitchers as shown by the Greinke deal.
The 28-year-old Sanchez, who is probably in the prime of his career helped Detroit reach the World Series this year.
He had a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings over three postseason starts, but was 1-2 because the Tigers were shut out in each of his losses.
Detroit has been good enough to get into the playoffs the last two years and the Tigers hope to improve enough to take the next step and win their first World Series since 1984, thanks to a couple major moves and a standout player's comeback.
By signing Sanchez Detroit also keep their four-man rotation together and after a slow start with the Tigers he is an integral part of that rotation - he pitched well in key games to help them win division titles in consecutive years for the first time since the 1935 and 1934 seasons with a 2.15 ERA over his last eight starts.
Overall, his career numbers are not impressive (48-51 with a 3.75 ERA) but you have to feeling that Detroit is a place that makes him feel comfortable and those numbers will continue to improve in the Motor City.
As things stand, the numbers on his contract are more remarkable but that is because he is on the right side of supply-and-demand economics in baseball. The Tigers didn't really want to offer Sanchez as long of a contract as he signed, but had to do so in order to keep him around.
Pitching is a risky business and the Tigers have placed a lot of faith in Sanchez – now is the time for him to repay them.