Instant Post-Mortem on Anibal Sanchez and the Chicago Cubs

The frustration remains too fresh to offer much beyond some bulleted thoughts on the last 24 hours, but I wanted to give you something immediately, and in the moment …

  • It’s great that the Cubs were targeting someone like Anibal Sanchez with a solid offer, but I’m not much for moral victories right now. I like the message it sends about the Cubs’ 2014 intentions, but that doesn’t make me any less bummed about losing out on the guy that was probably the single best free agent available for the Cubs’ needs and direction. I figured they were going to be fielding a competitive team in 2014 anyway, so this doesn’t prove much to me that I didn’t already believe about this front office. They’ve got a plan, and it doesn’t involve being terrible for another three years.
  • It’s important to point out the most logical chain of events here: Sanchez always wanted to stay with the Tigers, and the Tigers weren’t willing to go up to five years. So his agent shopped Sanchez to teams in an effort to get that five year offer, which he did, from the Cubs, for about $75 million. He took that offer back to the Tigers, applied some pressure via the media to get the Tigers to add that fifth year. He let the Cubs try and top it, which maybe they did with a five-year, $77.5 million offer. The agent went back to the Tigers, who upped it to $80 million, and the deal was done.
  • If that’s how things happened – and it is the most logical narrative – the Cubs probably never had a meaningful shot at Sanchez. It’s unfortunate that it was erroneously reported that they were getting him, but it sounds like they might never have gotten him. Certainly we can’t say that the Cubs would have gotten him if they’d upped their offer to 5/$80 million, because Sanchez had a clear preference for the Tigers.
  • That said, I’m still frustrated as hell. At $16 million per year, Sanchez needs to average only 3 WAR per year during his age 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33 seasons to earn his contract – and that’s being a bit unfair, because it assumes that the value of a win will hold steady at $5.5 million over the next five years, when it’s actually probably going to increase dramatically (making his contract even easier to “earn”). Given that he was worth 4.4 WAR in 2011 and 3.8 WAR in 2012, I’d say he’s a very fair bet to earn his money, if he stays healthy. Sanchez isn’t an ace, but he could have been a very important piece going forward. Let’s not play the jilted girlfriend here, claiming we didn’t really want him anyway (“He’s not even a number one!”).
  • Get ready to hear about the Cubs’ failing to close another deal that leaked to the media, with references to the Atlanta/Dempster trade and the Marmol/Haren swap. You can ignore those comparisons, however, because you know that the Atlanta/Dempster deal was leaked by Atlanta, and the Marmol/Haren trade was leaked by Marmol. The former fell through because Dempster never really wanted to go to Atlanta, and the latter fell through because the Cubs pulled out after seeing Haren’s medicals. It’s an unfortunate coincidence, but those stories have absolutely nothing to do with this one.
  • And, with that, I’m back to the third bullet. I guess I can’t blame the Cubs for not landing Sanchez – a guy is gonna go where a guy wants to go. The Cubs tried, made a solid offer (higher than any other team but Detroit – the Cubs are developing something of a second place curse), but came up short. Would I have offered to top that 5/$80 million offer? You know what, I probably would have. I probably would have gone to 6/$90 million, because I think it’s pretty easy to see how thin the free agent market is getting down the road, and I can see the direction salaries are going. But I also know that I don’t have half the information that the Cubs’ front office does, and there could be any number of reasons they were unwilling to add that sixth year (very few teams will ever considering going beyond five years for a pitcher, and I can understand that). Even if the Cubs had gone to six years, we’ll never know if it would have made any difference.
  • Where do the Cubs go from here? Well, Dave Kaplan said they had a back-up plan in place, and said separately that they were pursuing Carlos Villanueva. Maybe that back-up plan is Edwin Jackson, and maybe they get both him and Villanueva. Does that salve your wounds? Sure. But that’s exceedingly unlikely to happen. The Cubs haven’t been connected to Jackson yet in any plausible rumors, so we’ll just have to wait and see – they hadn’t been connected to Sanchez until yesterday, either. Odds remain strong that we’ll see the Cubs pick up another mid-tier Villanueva type, and that’ll be that for the rotation. Dreams of what might have been with Sanchez in the rotation will linger throughout 2013, unless, of course, he gets hurt.
  • On the media piece of this … whatever. I strongly suspect Bob Nightengale got played by Sanchez’s agent (either directly, or indirectly by way of a Cubs official), and he probably went further in his report than he should have. This is why we don’t get excited by the first whiff of a “done deal” anymore. We learn about it, we consider it, we discuss it, and we wait for something a bit more official. Some folks will continue to blame The Twitter, in ignorance of the fact that there are people behind those Twitters making decisions about what to tweet.
  • Phil Rogers and George Ofman say Theo Epstein and some Ricketts family representatives went to Miami yesterday to try and convince Sanchez to sign. Once again, you can’t argue there wasn’t a serious effort here. But I just can’t bring myself to pass out the participation trophy today. Maybe tomorrow.
  • I’m not mad at the front office. I’m sure no one is more disappointed today than they are. I’m not mad at Sanchez, either. He wanted to get paid, and he wanted to stay in Detroit – given their current level of competitiveness, I can’t totally blame him. It’s a good team he’s going back to, and for a lot of money.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

313 responses to “Instant Post-Mortem on Anibal Sanchez and the Chicago Cubs”

  1. Myles - WCSW

    Terrible. Probably the worst I’ve ever felt for NOT signing someone.

  2. bbmoney

    Frustrating, but I can’t be mad. We’ll likely never know all the details, but if the Cubs wouldn’t go 6 (which I can’t blame them for), I also can’t blame Sanchez for taking 5/80 with Detroit.

    Just don’t blame me for rooting for him not to earn that deal. Never root for an injury, but I don’t mind rooting for ineffectiveness…..especially since I’ve never liked the Tigers anyways.

    1. bbmoney

      Also I call for all people living in an area that has Little Ceasar’s pizza to boycott. I mean it’s terrible anyways.

      1. Internet Random

        It’s practically free. You get what you pay for.

      2. DarthHater

        Given the high quality of pizza readily available in Chicago, I rather doubt that Little Caesar’s has much business there to lose.

        1. bbmoney

          Clearly not in Chicago…sadly in Michigan the disgusting pizza they offer is still all to readily available.

          1. DarthHater

            Yea, I wouldn’t feed that Michigan crap to a goat! ;-)

      3. TWC

        Wait, there are still Little Caesar’s shops? Gack.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          They supply extra grease free of charge.

  3. Danny Ballgame

    Poop

    1. DarthHater

      Some folks will continue to blame The Twitter, in ignorance of the fact that there are people behind those Twitters making decisions about what to tweet.

      Don’t hate the Twitter, hate the twats. ;-)

      1. DarthHater

        Sorry, Danny. This was not supposed to be a reply to your comment. Which, btw, I found quite eloquent.

        1. Danny Ballgame

          All good man, I put a great deal of time and effort into that well worded comment intended to rile the imagination and provoke highly intellectual conversation about the current status of our beloved Cubs.

    2. Cooper

      The Twitter = mouth pooping

  4. FFP

    I hate baseball.

    1. rcleven

      Don’t hate baseball. Hate the agent. Cubs and Tigers played like a fiddle.

  5. hansman1982

    It stinks that the last FA standing that I really wanted, the Cubs also wanted and he did not want us.

    I’ll tell you want I’m gonna do. Call Theo, Jed and Tom up, get a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and put Sleepless in Seattle on. Then we can talk about how Sanchez had smelly feet, farted in front of us and never held the door open.

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      Haha. SLUMBER PARTY!!!!

    2. CycloneColin

      Haha! This is good stuff.

  6. Gcheezpuff

    I believe 6th year would invoke 10/5 rights on Sanchez making him more difficult to trade in the last year of his contract if they were in a situation to try and move him. If the FO is serious about trying to avoid no trade scenerios, this might have been the sticking point on offering a 6th year. Just a guess, but who knows.

  7. DRock

    Not sad about this. Cubbies will get their man. Rather them keep saving their money for big time young talent.

    1. Patrick G

      Agreed. That thing about his arm always hurting has always rubbed me the wrong way

    2. Spoda17

      agreed

  8. KidCubbie

    I still would rather have McCarthy than Sanchez. Especially after seeing the money Sanchez got. Sill disappointed that we didnt get a good building block even if he is a mediocre pitcher.

  9. Kansas Cubs Fan

    Damn it.

  10. Leo L

    Actually i am willing ot give the Cubs the participation ribbon. I was startign to doubt that they were particpitating in the free agent market for the future( besides flippable pieces). I think other players will like ot know that the front office is dedicated to finding players to win long term. may help sign other players who are undicided between cubs and other team taht have a “chance” to win. Also may help lock down mr cats pajamas long term if he feels the cubs are headed the right direction. this may also help negotiations in hte future lettting knwo players that the cubs are goign to just spend money for the sake of spending money ( ofcourse this will only be helpful if players actaully want to come to the cubs unlike sanibel who was usig the cubs as leverage)

  11. baseballet

    I wanted Theo to land two decent free agents to ease me through the rebuilding. He almost got half way there in a matter of hours. It must be agonizing for him to have come so close to achieving Baseballet’s seal of approval. Still, just for the effort–Theo, I’m putting you back on my holiday card list.

  12. Rich

    hey maybe with that extra 32 million you can hire some police officers in Detroit and help with crime.What a crock of crap.

  13. Brian Peters

    I wasn’t as high on Sanchez as you were/are, Brett, but I was happy to see that the Cubs were willing to go after a high(ish) quality player, if for no other reason than to silence the folks who complain about them not spending money. I don’t like having things taken away from me, and with the “misfortunes” this FO has had with their dealings, no matter what the reason, I’m not going to believe anything printed online until I see it, ink on paper. This just burns my ass, and you say you want to “punch a dolphin”? Well, I want to eat Santa Claus.

  14. Richard Nose

    I’m disappointed. But see Daniels in Texas: lost out on Greinke, now lost out on Hamilton. It happens to everyone not named Steinbrenner. I’m digging what the F.O. is trying to do.

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      It happens to everybody but,Steinbrenner and Colleti(Dodgers GM).

  15. EdgewoodDirk

    I just keep running through cognitive reframing exercises in my head.

    “Ok, this stings/burns harder because we’ve been waiting for a big move all off-season. The Cubs obviously have a plan that includes more than 2.5 million dollar signing for the next four years. Something else will come along.”

    Also, (and this is just the little tale I tell myself) I like to imagine that the reason they didn’t go higher (because like Brett said, they certainly could have without the deal being onerous) was because, frankly, Theo was a little pissed at being played and wasn’t interested in rewarding that with a bidding war.

    “Here’s another 2 million, same years. If that’s not enough, enjoy Detroit.”

    Reframe . . .reframe . . .reframe . . .

  16. ETS

    Dear Theo and Jed,

    I know losing out to the tigers stinks but here’s some things we can focus on: One, we tried hard. And two, we’re still dear friends!

  17. THEOlogical

    Brett, this is probably the BEST POST you or anyone has ever posted about the Cubs. We, as fans, were very low and disappointed to say the least. But you provided some very thoughtful and insightful information that was pertinent to our trailed hearts and minds. This will sting for quite some time but after reading this post, I’ve done two things…(1) felt like there can be a light at the end of the tunnel and (2), deleted my app for that other Bleacher thingamajig. Great, great JOB!!!

  18. matt

    Yeah, I’m prett much done with BN, and all other blog type websites/twitter reports etc.. I’m going to stick to waiting for the actual comment from the team. I’ve never seen so much BS reporting with people jumping the gun continuously in my life. At this point it isn’t even fun, it’s a joke, and these “reporters”, “bloggers” should really be ashamed of themselves. Just because you have 140 characters or a website doesn’t give you the authority to write BS. It’s a JOKE.

    1. Peter

      Amen

    2. fortyonenorth

      so much BS reporting with people jumping the gun continuously

      fueled by

      actual comments from the team.

      in an effort to influence negotiations.

      Yup, just shoot the messengers.

    3. Ben

      Good idea. Blame Brett…it’s clearly all his fault. When a big time guy like Bob Nightengale reports something, usually it’s true.

      Brett- thanks for all the good work you do! I will continue to make BN my place to read!

      1. DarthHater

        I blame Brett. Not for his reporting, but for beating the Sanchez drum to the point where now we can’t help but feel crushed. ;-)

        1. Ben

          Haha. I was actually just thinking that :)

          He had me so sold on Sanchez, talking about WAR. I was ready to go all in.

          1. DarthHater

            WAR. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

    4. Jack Weiland

      Bob Nightengale is a reporter for USA Today. Which, you may have heard, is a newspaper.

      The twitter is not the problem. The people using the twitter are (sometimes) the problem. Once again: there are good and bad forms of ALL media. Including television, books, movies, twitter, newspapers, facebook, etc. Good and bad things happen all the time, in all forms of media. No entity is perfect. Saying it’s the form of media’s fault is just expressing a complete lack of understanding.

      Not that you’ll read this, because you “quit” blogs.

      1. Jack Weiland

        Also: it’s fair to say that twitter has sped up the news cycle, and increased the ferocity with which reporters try to be the first to get a story. However, in this case, where it’s fairly clear that the agent was playing the Cubs, media and Tigers to get what his client wanted, the same thing probably would have happened if we were still in an age of newspapers, just spread out over a period of days. Here it all happened in one night because the news cycle is that much faster. But the agent could have used the same trick to accomplish this in the “good ole days” by leaking the story to a newspaper reporter (perhaps one from USA Today?), have him run the story, and then go back to the Tigers then to get his fifth year.

        Frustrating story all around, but one in which misplaced anger won’t accomplish anything. It is what it is, sadly.

        1. matt

          Maybe it’s better to wait and get the most accurate news rather than feverishly post garbage. That’s all I’m saying. I liked this website for the fan interactions and the prospect news that you can’t find anywhere else. Somewhere all of that got lost with these obsessive watches, and while reporting the rumors is fun to read, repeatedly posting innacurate news is mostly annoying. It’s my own fault, I want to know as much as everyone else. I just have to stop. That’s all I’m saying…and I think it was stated above very well…all of this spawned from ONE inaccurate report. A guy couldn’t help but think if there are 400 reports of the Cubs signing someone that it actually happened. All I’m saying is I think there is a responsiblitiy to those reporting news that maybe accuracy above all things is far more important that number of tweets, posts, blogs, etc.

          1. DarthHater

            I just have to stop. That’s all I’m saying…

            We’re going to have to change the name of this blog to Brokeback Nation: “I wish I knew how to quit you, Brett!”

          2. Jack Weiland

            Well, I was on the train when this all started, but the first BN post I read was pretty clear that some were saying it was a done deal, and others were saying it was close but not final. Brett does an insanely good job sifting through this stuff and giving a full picture of what’s being said, if you ask me. I’m not sure what you really want from him … to not post stuff like that? I love that he aggregates all of that for me, makes my job as a news consumer easier. If you don’t like the obsessive watches, don’t click on them. It’s simple. It seems silly to quit a whole blog just because it sometimes gives too much depth to a developing situation, but to each their own I suppose.

            I will continue coming here because I think Brett kicks significant butt, especially on stuff like this.

            1. King Jeff

              Well said Jack. I’ve been reading Brett’s work for a long time and I can’t remember even once where he’s reported something that was inaccurate. Every report he gives comes with a source, when it doesn’t, or he’s not 100% sure his source is right, he let’s us know. My guess is this is a complaint coming from someone who read that reports said that Sanchez was signing with the Cubs and didn’t bother reading the rest of what Brett posted.

  19. Morken

    I’m really encouraged:

    Our front office aggressively pursued what was perceived to be a talented, young pitcher, signifying a real commitment to winning in 2014.

    Nobody deserves blame:

    Sanchez was simply trying to max his value.

    The Cubs FO were simply doing their best to sign a player who wanted to sign with another team the whole time.

    Inside reporters were simply relaying the information for which they received. Things change, and they reported as such.

    1. ETS

      It definitely makes me more optimistic about the FO’s outlook on 2014. Who knows maybe if sanchez worked out they had some wild card big bat acquisition for 2013… Doubtful, but eh.

  20. Mr. Cubster

    Brett, you do an AMAZING job, and I GREATLY appreciate it ALL of your time and effort on our collective behalf!!!

  21. fortyonenorth

    This illustrates the big problem facing Theo & Co. And that is, players want to play for a winner. The Cubs aren’t that right now. It’s fine to say “we’re going to win…” but until that happens there’s going to be a class of players who aren’t interested.

    Having said that, I’m really pleased for this confirmation of the Cubs desire to field a winning team–if not in 2013 then shortly thereafter. Go Cubs Go!

  22. John

    Well, this is a disappointment. I would have like to have had sanchez. He is in his prime, and still improving (although his improvement arguably has come partially from an uptick in velocity, which will probably revert to previous norms during a 5 year contract), and as Brett said will probably earn his contract if healthy. He is a solid #3 starter on a playoff team. Oh well, time to look elsewhere. Hopefully not in the direction of Edwin Jackson though, as I dislike inconsistently excellent pitchers, you never know what you are going to get….

  23. Incredibad

    Really appreciate the great reporting, Brett. Updates were plentiful last night as I kept checking Twitter to get the latest news. Keep up the great work!

    I’m with you that it’s getting increasingly annoying with all of the premature reports of a deal being done – especially by ESPN and other major outlets. You would think they would designate that information as a “rumor” or something to that effect, rather than saying “sources say a deal is done”….

  24. JK

    What does everyone think of Nolasco? Could we put together a deal with the Marlins that gets us a few building pieces and Nolasco? Nolasco always reminded me of Anibal Sanchez for some reason.

  25. Eric

    I disagree, it is twitter’s fault, to a degree. And here’s why. “It was just a tweet”. If it weren’t for twitter, they would have to post this as an article on their companies news website, or to go on a radio show to announce it. If it’s “just a tweet” there aren’t any repercussions like, maybe losing your “insider” label from the radio station, or a talk from the boss who owns the company that hosted that false article you just posted.

  26. caryatid62

    I hate the idea the “no one deserves blame, good try, good effort.”

    Reporters run with stories that have at least one confirmation. Either Nightengale got played and acted unethically, or somebody confirmed the story who shouldn’t have. Just because we don’t know who deserves the bulk of the blame doesn’t mean there isn’t blame to be given. And while I wouldn’t jump the gun to blame the Cubs’ FO on this, 3 of these incidents in 6 months tells me that the rebuilding process, regardless of people’s hopefulness, is going to take longer than everyone thinks. You can’t predict these types of incidents, and you have to expect at least 1-2 more in the next year and a half.

  27. Cub Fan Dan

    @Buster_ESPN
    Total speculation: You have to wonder if there could be a deal built around Porcello-Hanrahan. DET could use closer, PIT needs starters.

    Well… That would be one less Marmol suitor. Damn. I was hoping for a Marmol-Porcello swap.

  28. Serious Cubs Fan

    Yes Brett it “Is a good team he’s going back to, and for a lot of money.” but its still detroit, the crummiest of what is to considered to a major city in America lol

    1. Serious Cubs Fan

      Chicago = World class Detroit….. = city equivalent to a 3rd world country city

      1. Pat

        Ever been to Farmington Hills? There are worse places to spennd half the summer.

  29. 2much2say

    Jair Jurrgens? Edwin Jackson? Villanueva? All 3?

  30. fortyonenorth

    Hey, it’s the Twitter age. We have to learn to live with it. Remember. Agents and teams are using instant media to influence things in real time–that wasn’t possible a few years ago. It’s new. And, like a new pitcher or new hitter, everyone will find a way to adjust and it won’t be such a big factor.

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