Phillies, Sánchez agree to 4-year deal with club options for 2029, '30

June 23rd, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- At this time a year ago, had made just six big league starts over the span of three seasons -- all on a fill-in basis.

Fast forward to Saturday and the 27-year-old Sánchez was seated alongside Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski as the club announced a four-year extension for Sánchez that includes team options for 2029 and '30.

Few could have seen this coming for Sánchez, who wore an Alec Bohm T-shirt with “I love this place” scrawled across the chest to the press conference.

"As much as we like Cristopher," Dombrowski said, "I wouldn't be telling you the truth if last year at this same time when he first came up -- even though we liked a lot of things about him -- I thought we'd be sitting here today and he would have enjoyed the success he's had over the past year.

“What he's accomplished has really been phenomenal.”

Added manager Rob Thomson: "I'd be lying if I said I did, to tell you the truth. His journey has been so remarkable."

Regardless, they couldn't be happier now.

"Cristopher has pitched fantastically for us and we project he'll continue to do so," Dombrowski said. "We're happy to have one of the best young pitchers in baseball signed for many years."

Sánchez had a breakout year in 2023 when he was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make a spot start on June 17 -- then never left.

He put up a 3.44 ERA over 19 games (18 starts) to help steady a Philadelphia rotation that had no answer in the No. 5 spot. The lefty pitched well enough to earn the call when the club needed a fourth starter in the National League Championship Series.

"I'm so happy to be here," Sánchez said via a team interpreter. "I feel great about this contract and what the future is going to be about."

Sánchez has taken his game to another level this season.

He has a 2.91 ERA through 14 starts. His sinker is averaging 94.5 mph -- up significantly from 92.1 mph last year. His changeup continues to be one of the most dominant pitches in the game, limiting opponents to a .189 average (21-for-111) and producing a 41.5% whiff rate.

So what exactly is his ceiling?

"I didn't see him getting to this point, so I don't know where it's going to end up," Thomson said. "But if you grade his stuff out, it's as good as anybody we've caught as far as fastball velocity, fastball command, the changeup is the best on the team."

Perhaps the most incredible number for Sánchez is that he's allowed just one home run in 77 1/3 innings this season.

Sánchez’s deal comes after the Phillies signed Nola to a seven-year, $172 million contract this past offseason. Then, in Spring Training, they signed Zack Wheeler to a three-year, $126 million extension.

The other key piece of the rotation, Ranger Suárez, is set to enter free agency following the 2025 season.

"It's basically follow the leaders with what we have built here with the horses of the team: Wheeler, Nola and Ranger," Sánchez said.

The Phillies would love to have Suárez follow the lead of the others when it comes to a long-term deal.

"We love Ranger, of course, and we hope that he's part of the organization for a long, long time," Dombrowski said. "I've always felt contract negotiations are something we kept to ourselves. There's not any reason to be public about them. There's nothing to gain. But we'd love to have him in the organization for a long time."

Dombrowski also prefers not to have those discussions during the season, though in Sánchez's case, the contract came together very quickly.

His development was a different story.

Thomson still recalls the first time he saw Sánchez pitch. He was throwing 98-99 mph, but the ball was “all over the complex.”

"To where he is now, I wouldn't be able to even envision that,” Thomson said. “His command is outstanding, his fastball is starting to get more velocity and his secondary pitches are really, really good -- especially that changeup. He's gone from the super power guy with no command to still a power guy with command and stuff. It's really remarkable."

And the Phillies anticipate he will only continue to improve.

“You don't want to have anybody sign a long-term contract and rest on their laurels,” Dombrowski said. “Well, that's not him. He just wants to continue to get better and better and better and be one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball.

“And we feel very much that he'll be able to accomplish that.”