In what was a very excited couple of days complete with high and lows (mostly lows,) the Chicago Cubs were eventually on the losing side of the Anibal Sanchez bidding.
Sanchez, who is one of the current offseason’s hottest pitching commodities, ended up inking a deal with Detroit for 5 years/$80 million. This is a very reasonable price considering the current inflated value of starting pitchers in the market right now.
Alas, it is a real kick in the pants for the Cubs. They were hustled by Sanchez’s agent throughout the entire process which is really what any good agent should do. Can’t have any hard feelings there.
So why does it still hurt so badly to think that Sanchez could be a Cub right now?
It was essentially a game of cat and mouse with the Cubs. They had thought they were talking exclusively to Sanchez and offered him a 5 year/$75 million contract satisfying his desire for a 5 year contract vs a 4 year which was previous tabled by other teams, including the Tigers. With that contract offer, Sanchez then returned to his host team, Detroit, and offered them an opportunity to match or better the deal. The Cubs, unbeknownst to this tactic were a little miffed when Detroit came back to table with not only a 5th year of service, but an extra $5 million to offer as well.
This is where the Cubs withdrew their interest. Jaded, they must seek starting pitching elsewhere. I’m sure Sanchez will send a fruit basket to the Cubs’ front office thanking them for the extra $5 million they essentially just made him.
We all knew this offseason could have been a dangerous one for the cubs and it’s quite normal for these sorts of bidding wars to take place. There was always a very real possibility of the Cubs being unable to sign any starting pitchers and this is coming to fruition. It’s ok to be upset, but we certainly can’t blame Sanchez, his agent or the Tigers for that matter.
However, this deal has much more to it than just face value. The Cubs really did need Sanchez on that 5 year deal. He’s a pitcher you can develop a winning team around and could have been an essential building block to a World Series Champion. Now that he’s not available, what’s the next step?
The free agent market for pitching in 2013 is significantly weaker, so the Cubs will likely have to find a way to trade for starting pitching in the next year. It will undoubtedly mean the departure of one of their best prospects in the process, which is some serious opportunity cost when you consider Sanchez could have been had without damaging the farm system as a free agent.
Who’s to say who they’ll target next? This front office is full of surprises.
It’d be foolish to think they don’t have a plan in the works though… It’s just a matter of time.