DETROIT -- Now that the Tigers have a new manager, they can go on with their offseason. As expected, Detroit will go on without pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Whether they go on with Victor Martinez has yet to be determined.General manager Al Avila said he told Sanchez after his start for
DETROIT -- Now that the Tigers have a new manager, they can go on with their offseason. As expected, Detroit will go on without pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Whether they go on with Victor Martinez has yet to be determined.
General manager Al Avila said he told Sanchez after his start for the Tigers on the last day of the season that the team would not exercise his $16 million option for 2018, instead paying off his $5 million buyout. That will become official once the World Series ends, making the 33-year-old right-hander a free agent after six seasons in Detroit.
It will probably be the least surprising decision the Tigers make this offseason. Sanchez went 3-7 with a 6.41 ERA with Detroit this year, continuing a downward trend in his stats since his American League-best 2.57 ERA in 2013. After opening this season in the bullpen, he spent a month at Triple-A Toledo to try to regain his form as a starting pitcher.
Sanchez enjoyed modest success down the stretch, posting a 2.74 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings over his final four starts. But even if Sanchez enjoyed a more prolonged stretch, it would not have likely changed the decision for the cost-conscious Tigers as their youth movement continues.
Whether the Tigers would consider re-signing Sanchez as a free agent this offseason is unclear. Any free-agent signings the Tigers make, Avila said, would most likely be bargain deals close to Spring Training.
"Free agency is going to be a little different this year than we've been accustomed to in the past," Avila said.
The situation is different with Martinez, who is under contract for next season at $18 million but coming off heart issues. The 38-year-old switch-hitter underwent a cardiac ablation procedure to address an irregular heartbeat that hospitalized him twice this season. He spent two weeks on the disabled list in June before a recurrence in August led to the procedure.
"Victor said that he's 100 percent committed to getting back in shape," Avila said. "He told me he's committed to coming back in Spring Training ready to go and having a really good, strong, productive season. That's all I can go on."
Asked if the Tigers allow for the possibility Martinez might not be medically cleared to play, Avila said, "That's a possibility. But until we get there, I really couldn't tell you anything more. From what we know, he's recovered 100 percent, and it's now about doing physical exercise to get himself back into Major League shape and then getting to Spring Training. Once we get to Spring Training, then we'll see as far as how the health can continue."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.