This week, free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez's contract demands became known: six years, $90 million or seven years, $100 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS. While that may seem like a lot of money for Anibal Sanchez, all things considered, it might not be all that out of bounds.
Since 2010, Sanchez has accumulated 12.0 fWAR, 16th among all starting pitchers in the league. Just two players that have provided more value than Sanchez are free agents this offseason: Zack Greinke (the unargued top target on the market) and Dan Haren (who had a disappointing 2012, and is dealing with a litany of medical problems that is apparently causing some teams to shy away).
Furthermore, when looking at the players that have been worth more than Sanchez over the last three seasons, a number of them have recently gotten contracts in the last year or so, including Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain. Of those five, the lowest average value is Kershaw's $9.5 million, unique compared to the others in that it is a two year deal designed to avoid arbitration rather than a long-term contract or extension. Excluding Kershaw, the lowest AAV belongs to Wilson's $15.5 million per season.
Now, consider a Sanchez contract. At the six years, $90 million demanded of some teams, that's just $15 million per season. Seven years and $100 million comes up w ith an AAV a little higher than $14 million per season. Is $14 or $15 million really that much money per season for a pitcher who will be heading into his age 29 season? His age is comparable to that of both Hamels and Cain (with Sanchez being eight months older than Cain and two months younger than Hamels), and he trails both pitchers by a win or less in value over the last three seasons, while being on much worse teams than either in Miami for two and a half of those seasons.
Giving Anibal Sanchez a contract that gives him $14 or $15 million per season isn't lunacy. While Sanchez has never pitched 200 innings in a season, he has three straight years of at least 190. The shoulder problems that came about early in Sanchez's career haven't popped up in recent years, and while shoulder injuries have a much more significant impact on a pitcher than elbow injuries, there has been nothing to indicate that he'll have a flareup. Hell, his velocity has been remarkably consistent since his surgery.
While Sanchez might not be an ace, aces aren't the pitchers getting this type of salary anymore. The bar has been raised. Hell, if your team is hesitant about giving Greinke that type of money, you're not doing it right. Sanchez is going to get his money, and I don't think it would really be a bad move to give it to him.