Last night, Zack Greinke signed a 6 year/$147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the largest ever for a right-handed pitcher. The Red Sox never were really interested in Greinke. However, his deal likely sets the price range for a number of pitchers they are interested in, specifically Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez is clearly the second best starter on the market and would be a phenomenal upgrade to a weak Red Sox rotation. With only about $40 million left on their payroll for 2013, however, signing Sanchez may not be the prudent choice anymore.
First of all, since the Rangers missed out on Greinke, they’ll likely be major players in the Sanchez sweepstakes along with the Tigers and a few other teams. It may take quite a bit to pull Sanchez from a team like Texas or Detroit that looks to be a contender for the next few years. The Tigers offered him a 4 year/$48 million contract last week, but were rebuffed. If he rebuffed a very respectable contract from last year’s American League Champions, he’d certainly reject a similar contract from a team that went 69-93 last season.
Unlike Greinke, however, there’s a good chance that Sanchez may actually live up to his contract. Although Greinke’s stats in 2012 look better (15-5, 3.48) compared to (9-13, 3.86), he’s a year older and has had issues with depression and anxiety in the past. Sanchez would probably be able to handle a tough media market (like Detroit) with aplomb, whereas Greinke may well be torn apart by the media vultures of Dan Schaughnessy and Nick Cafardo.
As free agent pitchers go, Sanchez is now at the top of the class. It may take a contract five or six years long and worth close to $100 million to bring him to town now. There are cheaper options out there who may be only slightly inferior in quality, like Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, and Shaun Marcum. Should the Red Sox try and continue their short term commitments for the next few years, they represent the route Boston should take.