Seattle Mariners: 5 “Budget Ballers” to Consider this Winter
As crazy as it is to say after watching Anibal Sanchez pitch for Detroit, the truth is that he was excellent in 2018. Sanchez went to the Braves and become a totally new pitcher. In 136.2 innings, Sanchez posted a 2.86 ERA, a 3.62 FIP, 135 strikeouts, and 42 walks.
Sanchez was a revelation who helped push the Braves timeline up a whole season, and now should be rewarded on the open market. The Mariners, like many teams, will certainly be in the market for this caliber of starter.
Sanchez will turn 35 in February and is likely searching for his final payday after pitching for $1 million in 2018. However, with his age and utter ineptitude from 2015-2017, Sanchez may be forced to take a short-term “prove it deal”.
In 2018, Sanchez got back to the groundball rate he had in his heyday, posting a 45% GB rate. Sanchez even tied his career high K/9, nearly striking out a batter per inning. Even in his struggles, Sanchez avoided walks, and 2018 was no exception as he posted a 2.77 BB/9 rate.
In addition, Sanchez posted the second lowest opponents average exit velocity in all of baseball, as opponents put the ball in play at a meager average of 83.7 MPH.
So we have a groundball-heavy, bat-missing, no walking, soft-contact inducing, starting pitcher who may not be a hot commodity in free agency. For a team like Seattle who will need to hit some home runs, giving Sanchez $7-$10 million could be the biggest home run they can hit this winter.
Perhaps the Mariners will surprise us and be players for Patrick Corbin and Michael Brantley. But in the most realistic scenario, they’ll need to continue to play the value game this off-season. And if they want to make the playoffs in 2019, they’ll need to hit home runs this winter, not just singles and doubles.