Washington’s Nationals officially announced what is reportedly a two-year/$19M free agent deal with Aníbal Sánchez on Thursday afternoon, a week after initial reports had the 34-year-old, 13-year veteran signing on in D.C.
Sánchez, who’ll turn 35 in late February of 2019, will earn a total of $6M in the first year of the deal, and $9M in 2020, with $2M deferred per year (to be paid out in January of 2021), and the two-year deal includes a $12M club option for the 2021 season, with a $2M buyout if the Nationals decline to pick up the third year.
“Thanks to the Lerner family [for giving] me that opportunity to play with the team for that many years,” Sánchez said when he was asked about getting a multi-year, big league deal a year after he signed a non-guaranteed split deal (for $2.5M in the majors and $500,000 in the minors), with the Minnesota Twins (who released him in early March), and a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves (which paid him $1M in the majors).
In a bounce-back 2018 campaign in Atlanta’s rotation, Sánchez put up a 2.83 ERA, 42 walks (2.77 BB/9), and 135 Ks (8.89 K/9) overall, with a .211/.278/.359 line against in 133 2⁄3 innings pitched as a starter for the Braves. He hit free agency again this winter and found a home in Washington.
“I’m grateful and it’s a blessing to have this deal with this team,” Sánchez said, “... because at my age and [at this point] in my career, it’s really, really important and that’s what I’m grateful to the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo [for], to have me with the team.”
Sánchez posted a 2.82 ERA and a .217/.283/.337 line against in 89 1⁄3 innings on the mound with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate last season, and he’ll be reunited with the veteran backstop in the nation’s capital after Suzuki signed a two-year deal with the Nats earlier this winter.
“That’s a big thing for me,” Sánchez said, “especially because the way that I pitched in 2018, Suzuki was involved in everything.
“In every change that I made, every sequence that we worked for, Suzuki was really involved.”
The Nationals also acquired catcher Yan Gomes from the Cleveland Indians, giving them a solid duo behind the plate after the catching corps was an issue in the last few seasons.
“I’ve known Yan Gomes for a while when he was with Cleveland, and I know the pitchers that he caught for,” Sánchez added.
Sánchez’s deal is just the latest signing for the Nationals, who’ve added relievers to the mix, with Kyle Barraclough, Tanner Rainey, and Trevor Rosenthal, acquired Suzuki and Gomes to handle the staff, added to the rotation with Patrick Corbin, and signed a big bat to come off the bench, with Matt Adams returning.
Sánchez said he likes what he sees in D.C., and he’s looking forward to joining the club.
“They are always a really hard team to face,” he said, though he joins the Nats after going (10-1) with a 2.08 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) and 155 2⁄3 innings pitched on the mound against the Nationals in his career, with a stingy .207/.291/.314 line against in those outings.
“They’ve always been on the top of the division and it’s not easy to play the top teams,” Sánchez continued.
“I liked the team. I did face the team for a while, and they’ve got a group of players that have been together for a while and I know that I’m pretty sure that I can help a lot every five days from the mound.”