Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sanchez was a good signing

While perusing some of the message boards in the aftermath of the Anibal Sanchez signing, I was confounded by the grumbling about “how we overspent”, or “there goes Verlander and Cabrera”. I doubt the team will lose either of those players because of this signing. I realize that payroll seems to be entering unprecedented territory, but what seems to be the most overlooked truth of this entire situation, is that baseball revenues are also entering unprecedented territory. The sum of television revenues are on the verge of pretty much doubling from approximately $77M to the $150M range. The team is projected to have a payroll in the mid $150Ms right now with Sanchez, the team ran for several years in the $130M range on the old TV revenue schedule, I don’t see how bumping payroll $20M is this week’s sign of the apocalypse.
While I do believe there are CERTAIN budgetary constraints in place, I don’t see this move as the move that will cost us Verlander or Cabrera. This move is going to cost us Max Scherzer after the 2014 season. Scherzer is a Scott Boras client and is going to test the market. We just purchased a pretty good pitcher for 5 years on the low end of what is likely to be the beginning of a very strong inflationary cycle in player contract values. If Sanchez got this amount in 2012, just imagine what Scherzer will get after 2014. While I understand that after the 2014 season Verlander is scheduled to be a free agent also, I expect that we will probably begin contract extension talks with Justin right about now. Zach Grienke has set the bar, Justin Verlander now knows what he can expect to ask for, and the Tigers now know what about they would be expected to pay. Just like with Sanchez, DD and the crew have long stated the desire to keep JV a Tiger for life, while Scherzer as a Boras client is much less likely to take that track at a time JV has stated his desire to remain with the club. Two years prior to contract expiration is traditionally about the timeframe where organizations that WANT to keep their players longer term will begin contract extension talks. It seems to me now that most of the “big moves” that involve external free agents are out of the way, it is time to turn our attention to internal contract issues, and that is exactly what I think the organization is going to do.
I do believe the first element of fallout from this signing is that Rick Porcello is likely to be traded. DD almost ALWAYS holds his cards close to the vest and RARELY states what his trade intentions are. With Porcello, DD has pretty much said he could be had in “the right trade”, which is more than DD usually gives up to the public. If I am to translate DD speak from that remark, it pretty much says to me Porcello is a goner. Porcello, I think if traded to a team with decent infield defense, could be a pretty effective pitcher, especially in the National League, which is where I suspect he will be traded to. Boesch too is likely a goner for the same reason. Andrew Oliver has already been traded in what I guess DD assesses was “the right deal”. With Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Phil Coke and Brennan Boesch all in their arbitration years, and with Al Alburquerque and Andy Dirks knocking on the door, Anibal Sanchez provides one roster spot with cost certainty over the next 5 years. This also allows for the Tigers to reduce the uncertainty of arbitration by giving the Tigers room to part ways with a few of these players. As stated above, I believe this winter, those players will be Rick Porcello and Brennan Boesch, with the team taking another year on the remaining players.
All things put together, if the organization can develop another starting pitcher this year (are you listening Casey Crosby?), I wouldn’t’ be surprised to see the team trade Scherzer next winter when he might be at “maximum trade value”, especially considering Scherzer is the one more likely to leave via free agency in my opinion. This Anibal Sanchez signing gives the organization much greater flexibility to work its way through the big arbitration classes over the next few years, and MAY cost us Porcello and eventually Scherzer, but I like our chances this year and maybe next with a rotation of JV, Scherzer, Fister, Sanchez and Smyly much better than a rotation of JV, Scherzer, Fister, Porcello and Smyly, and that’s the bottom line here. This was a great signing, and in a few years, this will look like a bargain.
Now, if we can just get one more big bat.  I'd like it much if we could put together a package centered around Porcello and Castellanos, along with others not named Garcia or Rondon to get Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.  That would be the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

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