MIAMI -- Aníbal Sánchez waited 14 seasons to savor his first World Series title. After making the playoffs four times with the Tigers and the Braves, the Venezuelan-born righty got his first ring this year with the Nationals, who beat the Astros in seven games to secure their first championship in franchise history.
The wait, Sánchez said, made the experience that much sweeter.
"I think when things are difficult to achieve, you enjoy them more, value them more and respect them more," Sánchez said, in Spanish, at the 12th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in Miami.
Sánchez, 35, posted an 11-8 record and a 3.85 ERA in 30 starts and 166 innings for the Nats during the regular season. In three postseason starts, he struck out 18 batters in as many frames. He turned in a performance for the ages in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, in which he didn’t allow a hit until the eighth inning.
Sánchez's consistency in 2019 was all the more impressive considering he posted a 6.09 ERA for the Tigers from 2016-17. He was later released by the Twins during Spring Training in 2018 before signing with the Braves.
Now, Sánchez's career has new life. He has a guaranteed season left on the two-year, $19 million contract he signed with Washington prior to the '19 campaign, with a team option for 2021. And there are a few things he'd still like to achieve.
"I would like to be in an All-Star Game, be a finalist for a Cy Young," said Sánchez, who pitched a no-hitter as a rookie with the Marlins in 2006 but has never been selected for a Midsummer Classic. "I think finishing my career healthy is what I want the most.”
In 2020, Sánchez will once again be a key part of the Nationals' rotation as they look to defend their Series title. But they may be forced to do so without two instrumental members of their championship run, as third baseman Anthony Rendon and right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player, are free agents.
“We have to see where we are come Spring Training,” said Sánchez. “We have two key pieces, Rendon and Strasburg, in free agency. We have to see where they are going to be and then we can see what’s going to happen with the team.”