The Minnesota Twins have finalized their low-risk contract with right-hander Anibal Sanchez, securing another experienced candidate for their rotation.
Sanchez signed the one-year, non-guaranteed deal on Tuesday before throwing his first bullpen session with the team. Sanchez agreed to terms last week for $2.5 million this season if he makes the major league roster out of spring training, with additional incentives available.
Sanchez, who agreed to terms on Friday and worked out at the CenturyLink Sports Complex for three days before the move became official, was added to the 40-man roster. To make room for Sanchez, Trevor May was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
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Sanchez will compete for a spot in the rotation with other candidates such as Phil Hughes, Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Duffey. Twins manager Paul Molitor said he’s leaning toward a four-man rotation, with Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson considered locks to make the club.
“I’m happy to be here with this team,” Sanchez said. “It’s one of the teams that I saw a lot when I was with Detroit. I know it’s a really good group. It’s a really good opportunity for me.”
The Twins believe Sanchez still has something left in the tank, even after struggling the past three seasons with the Tigers in which he posted a combined 5.67 ERA over 415 2/3 innings. He had a 6.41 ERA last season, but he still struck out 104 and walked 29 in 105 1/3 innings. His 21.6 percent strikeout rate was exactly the MLB average, while his 6 percent walk rate was two points better than average.
Sanchez, who turns 34 on Feb. 27, also showed he was healthy down the stretch after a rash of injuries, including a left hamstring strain. He used his pitch mix more effectively and posted a 2.74 ERA with one homer allowed over his final four starts.
“At the end of the season was one of the parts when everything came together,” Sanchez said. “From when the season started to when the season ended, it was like a really big roller coaster to me. But I finished strong.”
Sanchez, who threw a bullpen session on Tuesday alongside new acquisition Odorizzi, knows he has to compete for a spot this spring, which is the same situation he found himself in last year with Detroit. He ended up starting the year in the bullpen before heading to Triple-A to get stretched out to start again.
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