In what appears to be the first real substantiated set of Milwaukee Brewers rumors, the Crew has interest in free agent righty Anibal Sanchez.
According to Jon Morosi, the Milwaukee Brewers have been active in the pitching market and are interested in soon-to-be 35 year old Anibal Sanchez.
While most Brewers fans can understand why the team is in the market for starting pitching, the need is more for an ace-level starter. So why do they have interest in Sanchez?
Anibal Sanchez In 2018
After the final three seasons in Detroit, Sanchez’s career looked dead in the water. He had posted three straight ERAs above 4.50 and it kept climbing. He had been moved into a bullpen role and that appeared to be where his career was heading.
But then he signed a one year deal with the Braves for 2018. He started 24 games and posted a 2.83 ERA with a career-low 1.083 WHIP.
Last year, Sanchez had a 1.22 groundball-to-flyball ratio, meaning he keeps most of the contact he allows on the ground, which is vital for any success in Miller Park. He also generated the lowest rate of hard contact of anyone in baseball. He seems to present a poor man’s version of Dallas Keuchel.
Sanchez has gone through a late career revival and should now be a decently sought after free agent.
That late career revival was brought on by a change in his pitching arsenal. His cutter, which he threw only 8% of the time in 2017, was thrown 22.5% of the time in 2018 with Atlanta. Sanchez also cut down on his fastball and slider usage and increased the use of his changeup slightly.
This change in sequencing sounds very familiar to the change we saw in Wade Miley in 2018 with the Brewers. But the peripheral stats on Sanchez were more bullish on his results than Miley’s. Sanchez had a 3.81 xFIP while Miley was pegged at a 4.30 xFIP.
The Venezuelan Connection
The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of Venezuelan-born players on their team. From Jesus Aguilar and Orlando Arcia to Jhoulys Chacin and Junior Guerra, it’s quite the group of players in a close-knit MLB community.
Chacin even stated last year one of the reasons he was attracted to Milwaukee as a free agent was the strong group of Venezuelan players on the roster. Any one of the six Venezuelan-born Brewers on the 25 man roster could be reaching out to Sanchez to try to convince him to come to Milwaukee.
In fact, both Sanchez and Jesus Aguilar are from the same hometown in Maracay, Venezuela. Although Maracay is a large city in that country, it’s still a notable connection.
What Could Sanchez Cost?
Given his age and recent career turnaround, it’s not difficult to see Sanchez getting a two year deal. Although, it’s probably more likely that he lands a one year deal, in the range of $5-7MM or so.
Sanchez could end up having a number of suitors this winter. But with most teams focused on trying to acquire the top arms like Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, and James Paxton right now, the Brewers appear to be getting in Sanchez’s ear early on in the process.
He’s no longer the 180+ innings a year pitcher that he used to be. But as seen with Wade Miley, the change in arsenal can be effective. If the Milwaukee Brewers believe he can repeat his results, they could bring him in as an experienced, veteran arm to help along what should be a very young starting rotation.
The Brewers are on the lookout for any upgrades to their roster they can find this winter. And adding a guy like Sanchez, who has experience in a bullpen and being an effective starter could present one for GM David Stearns.