According to an industry source, while the Red Sox had some interest in right-hander Anibal Sanchez as one of the top free agent starters on the market, the team decided early in the offseason that it would not pursue him if his asking price was for five or more years. The team believed that the 28-year-old likely would receive an offer of five (or perhaps even six) years, making the decision to target a shorter-term deal with right-hander Ryan Dempster relatively straightforward.
Sanchez agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal  to return to the Tigers on Friday, staying with the club that traded for him prior to the 2012 trade deadline. He was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA with the Tigers during the regular season, but then proved dominant (1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings, albeit with a 1-2 record) in the playoffs. Given his stuff, age (28) and the fact that he would not cost a team that signed him a draft pick (as a player traded in the middle of the 2012 season, he was ineligible to receive a one-year qualifying offer to entitle the Tigers to a draft pick should he sign elsewhere), Sanchez represented one of the most appealing options on the market.
Still, given the risks associated with signing any pitcher for as many as five years, the fact that Sanchez has never thrown as many as 200 innings (even though he's been consistently in the 190-plus range in the last three years) and the fact that he's been slightly better than league average rather than a standout, the Sox decided that he did not represent a pitcher worth the risks inherent in a five-year contract.
Instead, the team agreed with Dempster -- a pitcher who is older (35) than Sanchez, but who has a consistent track record of durability (200-plus innings in four of the last five years, and an average of 199 innings a year during that span) and performance consistency -- on a two-year, $26.5 million deal on Thursday. Like Sanchez, Dempster was traded in the middle of 2012, meaning that he would not require the sacrifice of a draft pick.
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