Agent: Anibal Sanchez left money on the table

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Remember a couple of years ago how everyone said Cliff Lee “left money on the table” to sign with the Phillies? I actually doubt he left money on the table — no one knows for sure what the Yankees were offering him — but I was pleased that the “money on the table” metaphor got goosed with all of that.  I now like to picture all free agent negotiations taking place in a room with a big table and large stacks of cash.

Anyway, Lee must have let Anibal Sanchez borrow his table this past week:

Sanchez’s agent, Gene Mato, said that Sanchez left money on the table at the winter meetings, when an unnamed team offered him a contract, but that Sanchez didn’t want to make his decision on money, but rather comfortability.

Don’t say a thing about “comfortability.” I make up words all the time myself, and as long as everyone knows what they mean I think it’s good.

As for Sanchez leaving money on the table: I am doing the little Mr. Spock thing in which one eyebrow is raised. Partly out of skepticism, partly out of curiosity.

It would have to be a team which keeps its lips locked and about whom we tend not to hear rumors before something actually happens. The first two that spring to mind are the Blue Jays and the Yankees, and the Yankees aren’t in the market for an $80 million+ starting pitcher.  Could be the Jays, I suppose.

Or it could be an agent trying to make it sound like his client didn’t just use another team — the Cubs — as a bogey in order to extract a few extra million from the team with whom his client wanted to sign all along. What say you, Mr. Mato?

The next morning, he called me early in the morning and said, ‘Listen, I want to be a Tiger.’  It was pretty clear from the beginning, to me, that Anibal really wanted to be a Tiger, so I did everything in my ability to make that happen.”

Fascinating.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉