The Braves have signed right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league spring training, per a club announcement Friday morning.
Sanchez, 34, joins the Braves after being released by the Twins last weekend. He allowed six runs on five hits and a walk over four Grapefruit League innings with Minnesota, and after the Twins solidified their rotation with the signing of Lance Lynn, they cut Sanchez from his non-guaranteed major-league deal in order to avoid paying the entirety of his salary while also opening up a 40-man roster spot.
Sanchez paced the AL with a 2.57 ERA (162 ERA+) in 2013, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting, and he’s been extremely consistent for most of his major-league career, posting ERAs below 4.00 in seven of his first nine big-league seasons, including six straight from 2009-2014. He’s dealt with increasingly pronounced issues over the past three seasons, though, and those struggles culminated with 2017 campaign in which he posted a 6.41 ERA and 1.60 WHIP over 105.1 innings, dealing with a demotion to the bullpen to start the season, followed by a temporary trip to the minors to work on his mechanics and stretch out for a return to the rotation.
Sanchez will battle for a spot in Atlanta’s rotation, though he seemingly has a rather steep hill to climb if he wants to be included in that group by Opening Day. The Braves’ rotation to start the season figures to include Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Kazmir, with Sean Newcomb being recalled to fill the fifth spot once the schedule requires a fifth starter. Prospects (or in some cases, former prospects) such as Aaron Blair, Max Fried, Lucas Sims, and Matt Wisler have also been working to establish themselves as potential rotation members this spring. If Sanchez is willing to go to the minors, he’d be a decent depth piece for Atlanta to have, especially since McCarthy and Kazmir have frequently struggled with injuries over the years.
He could always battle for a long-relief role as well, though guys like Blair, Sims, and Wisler would also make sense in that type of role — and would fit better since they can be optioned back and forth between Triple-A and the majors. Chase Whitley, who is out of options this spring, is also battling for a multi-inning relief role but will need to be outrighted off the 40-man roster if he doesn’t stick around for Opening Day.
Sanchez is the second player to be picked up by the Braves this week after being cut out of another club’s camp. They also added outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who will be a candidate to keep the seat warm in left field until Ronald Acuna arrives and could fit as Atlanta’s fourth outfielder thereafter.