December 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Tony Paul: At the Winter Meetings

Tigers wouldn't insult Anibal Sanchez with $56-$60 million offer

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Nashville, Tenn. — Boy, we all have different definitions of what's insulting.

According to a report from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Tigers made an offer to starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez earlier this offseason — to the tune of four years, $48 million.

And also according to Heyman, Sanchez's representatives responded by saying that would insult the 28-year-old right-hander.

Never mind that Sanchez has a sub-.500 career record (48-51), no Cy Youngs or All-Star appearances to his credit, and has only made $14 million in his career.

Yet, a $12 million annual salary was a slap in the face?

Look, Sanchez is going to get a good payday, deservedly so, and nobody thought it'd take just $48 million to get him to sign on the dotted line. He really strengthened his resume down the stretch with the Tigers, with a 2.15 ERA from Aug. 22 through the end of the regular season, then three good postseason starts.

Essentially, in that span, Sanchez went from being a solid free-agent option to the second-best starter available, behind Zack Greinke.

So Sanchez's people have sent out the word that he wants a six-year deal in the $90 million range. (Justin Verlander, by the way, is in the middle of a five-year, $80 million deal.)

And at that price, the Tigers, most definitely, will say "thanks, but no thanks."

Of course, don't be surprised if that's the final price.

Sure, if the Dodgers want Sanchez, they'll get him — because, with a colossal TV contract coming up, they plan to spend, spend and spend some more under their new ownership.

But clearly, the Dodgers' top priority is Greinke, who would give them dual aces, pitching alongside Clayton Kershaw.

And if the Dodgers get Greinke — as they're expected to do, if not this week then soon after — there's a good chance they send Sanchez, their potential backup plan, looking elsewhere.

Under that scenario, the money could dry up in a hurry. Think about it: the Yankees and Red Sox, who could use starting pitching, aren't interested in long-term deals at the moment; and the Rangers, who also are high on Greinke, aren't even thrilled with the idea of giving superstar Josh Hamilton a fourth or fifth season and, remember, wouldn't pay lefty C.J. Wilson that kind of money last offseason.

The Angels, no doubt, want Greinke back, but turning to Sanchez would be doubtful, considering they have fiscal issues of their own, having spent big last offseason on Albert Pujols and Wilson, yet didn't even make the postseason.

One team to watch is the Nationals. They're never overly shy about overpaying (see Jayson Werth), and Sanchez could give them a dynamite rotation, working alongside Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez.

A potential wild-card could be the Royals, who believe they're only a starting pitcher or two away from contention. But they might take one look at the price, utter a two-word profanity ("Gil Meche!" What were you thinking?) and walk away from the table.

There are other, more affordable options, after all, like Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren.

So the Tigers are inclined to wait out Sanchez, and their patience could be rewarded.

Not saying he gets only "an insulting" $48 million, of course. All along, $56 million to $60 million over four years seemed more in the realistic realm.

And that'd certainly be in the Tigers' and Mike Ilitch's ballpark.

tpaul@detnews.com

twitter.com/tonypaul1984

Anibal Sanchez had a 1.77 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in three postseason starts for the Tigers. / David Guralnick / Detroit News