Sanchez, 34, signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Twins in February, giving them back-of-the-rotation insurance in case they weren’t able to add any starting pitchers this offseason. Since they signed Sanchez, however, the Twins have acquired right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays and signed free-agent righty Lance Lynn to a one-year deal. Thus, Sanchez wasn’t going to have many opportunities going forward, so the Twins opted to pay him 30 days termination pay (roughly $403,000) rather than giving him the 45-day payout ($605,000) he would have earned if he was still on the roster by Tuesday or the $2.5 million salary he would have been guaranteed if he remained with the Twins into the regular season.
While the Twins undoubtedly have good intentions in trying to give Sanchez an opportunity to find another team, it’s difficult to see where he fits at this late juncture. Sanchez, who posted a 13.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over four innings of relief this spring, has experienced progressively worse results with the Tigers over the past four seasons. After finishing fourth in AL Cy Young voting in 2013, Sanchez still had a very solid season in 2014, posting a 3.43 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 22 outings. Over the past three seasons, though, he’s posted ERAs of 4.99, 5.87, and 6.41 while posting WHIPs of 1.28, 1.46, and 1.60.
After failing to crack the Tigers’ Opening Day rotation last year, he accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo in May and spent about a month in the minors. He was recalled in June and finished the season on a good note, giving up three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts, but overall he was still one of the majors’ least successful starters in 2017.
Sanchez will almost certainly have to settle for a minor-league contract if he’s going to sign elsewhere, and with starters like Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Scott Feldman, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson still on the market, it’s highly unlikely that he’d be one of the first guys teams call if they decide they need more rotation depth.
Even with Sanchez out of the picture, the Twins still have impressive rotation depth. Their Opening Day rotation is expected to include Lynn, Odorizzi, Jose Berrios, and most likely Kyle Gibson, with either Phil Hughes or Adalberto stepping into a starting role once Minnesota needs a fifth starter on April 13. Ervin Santana and Trevor May will return from injuries as the season progresses, and the Twins are slated to have plenty of quality starting depth at Triple-A Rochester with Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Aaron Slegers, and Felix Jorge.