UPDATE: Nightengale reports that there will be no decision from Sanchez tonight, as talks with the Cubs and Tigers are expected to continue in the morning.
7:50 PM: Per Nightengale, Sanchez’s agent says, “He has not decided. Negotiations are ongoing..”
7:14 PM: Nightengale reports that the Tigers have bumped their offer to Sanchez. The specifics of the new offer aren’t yet clear, but it’s beginning to look like the Cubs got used for leverage here. This baseball is a tough business.
6:59 PM: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs thought they had a deal with Sanchez, but the Tigers are being given the last chance to match. They previously offered him a four-year deal.
6:12 PM: Not so fast. Sanchez’s agent Gene Mato told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that he’s still talking to other teams. Meanwhile, Heyman hears that the Tigers remain “very much” in the mix to sign him.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports also hears that it isn’t a done deal, so stay tuned.
5:50 PM: Another unexpected signing. After a pretty general assumption that the Tigers were the favorites to bring back Anibal Sanchez, Bob Nightengale just reported that the Chicago Cubs have signed him. No official word on the money, but Ken Rosenthal had just previously tweeted that the Cubs were “close” and were offering five years and $75 million.
Sanchez is a 48-51 career pitcher with a 3.75 ERA. Last year he he had a 3.74 ERA for the Tigers and a 3.94 ERA for the Marlins and was 9-13 overall. He has thrown between 195 and 197 innings in each of the past three years.
He’ll immediately be the Cubs number one or, depending on how you feel about Matt Garza’s health, number two starter. And, considering where this market has gone so far this winter, that’s not a terrible price for the guy. I think most people figured he’d go north of $80 million.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.