December 15, 2012

Major League Notebook: Sanchez decides to remain with Tigers

The Associated Press

DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers have made another major move to help their quest to win a World Series for the first time since 1984.

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Anibal Sanchez pitched well for the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs but was hurt by a lack of offense. Sanchez, a free agent, will return to the team with a five-year contract.

The Associated Press

Right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez agreed to an $80 million, five-year contract with the Tigers, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement hadn't been finalized, said Sanchez is scheduled for a physical Monday.

Sanchez was a part of Detroit's four-man rotation that led the franchise to the World Series this year. He had a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings over three postseason starts, but was 1-2 because Detroit was shut out in each of his losses.

"He was big for us in the playoffs. I just wish we scored a couple more runs for him and for our team," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "He's a big-time pitcher."

The Tigers acquired Sanchez, a 28-year-old Venezuelan, in July from Miami with second baseman Omar Infante for right-hander Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

As a free agent, Sanchez also was pursued by the Chicago Cubs.

Sanchez got off to a shaky start with the Tigers, but improved toward the end of the regular season and finished 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA for Detroit. He is 48-51 with a 3.75 ERA since making his major league debut with the Marlins in 2006.

Justin Verlander leads Detroit's rotation, which also includes Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Sanchez.

The Tigers pitched well in the playoffs but the offense let the team down when San Francisco swept Detroit in the World Series. Detroit was shut out twice, scored three runs in the two other games and had the third-lowest batting average in Series history at .159.

"It's definitely big for us to know Sanchez is coming back," Avila said. "He makes us better and makes our rotation really deep."

YANKEES: After spending 8½ years in Boston and delivering a pair of World Series titles, Kevin Youkilis was surprised when New York expressed interest.

"At first it was kind of like, 'Wow!"' he said after finalizing a $12 million, one-year contract with New York. "There's a lot of great Red Sox fans that just wanted the best for me going forward and I know there's going to be some that don't like the decision, and you can't worry about that."

A three-time All-Star, Youkilis becomes the Yankees' starting third baseman for at least the first half of next season while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod's operation is scheduled for next month.

"Obviously he certainly cushions the blow of losing Alex," General Manager Brian Cashman said. "That's a difficult loss. When you have a healthy Alex Rodriguez, you have really one of the game's more productive players. But I couldn't think of anybody better to replace him in the short-term with as Kevin Youkilis."

Youkilis, traded from the Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox in June, joined Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon as Boston players who made the switch to the Bronx in the heated rivalry.

He'll get an early look at his old club: The Red Sox are set to open at Yankee Stadium on April 1.

"I reached out to Johnny. He just said you're going to love the experience. It's a great place to play," Youkilis said.

But Damon also has felt the wrath of Red Sox fans.

"He's had a hard time in Boston. I saw him the other day. It's kind of upsetting to him, the fact that they've been pretty rough on him," Youkilis said.

He also plans to speak with Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. The pair feuded in the past over tight fastballs.

"It's not a big deal to me," Youkilis said. "If it was that big of a deal, I wouldn't be signing with the Yankees."

Chamberlain left Youkilis a voicemail this week but they haven't spoken.

"I haven't been able to return so many calls," Youkilis said. "But I'll reach out to him and talk to him."

If and when Rodriguez returns, Youkilis figures to see time at first base backing up Mark Teixeira. He also could get some games at designated hitter.

The team was hit with an $18.9 million luxury tax by Major League Baseball, the 10th consecutive year it will pay a penalty for it spending.

Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and the team closed in on a $13 million, two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

CARDINALS: Free-agent infielder Ty Wigginton agreed to a $5 million, two-year contract.

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