Philadelphia Phillies: A possible Joe Girardi and Anibal Sanchez reunion

The Philadelphia Phillies have been recently connected to free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez.

Outside of a few additions to their bullpen, the Philadelphia Phillies have been largely quiet this offseason, all while prized free agent J.T. Realmuto continues to sit on the open market with little news about a potential reunion coming across the wire.

There is, however, a recent rumbling about the Philadelphia Phillies showing interest in free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, a 15-year veteran of Major League Baseball and 2019 World Series champion with the Washington Nationals.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi discussed this rumor on Monday, a connection that could make a lot of sense for both Sanchez and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Both President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Joe Girardi are familiar with Sanchez, Dombrowski from his time with the Detroit Tigers, and Girardi from his time managing Sanchez with the Miami Marlins.

Currently, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, and Zack Wheeler make up three-fifths of the starting rotation, with Vince Velasquez and Spencer Howard projected to round out the staff. Velasquez has had an up-and-down career with the Phillies and could be a potential trade piece, while Howard is a young and promising arm, but had just 30 innings of Double-A experience under his belt before making his MLB debut in 2020.

Signing a veteran like Anibal Sanchez would allow Howard to ease his way into a full-time role, and provide a bit more stability to the back-end of the starting rotation.

Sanchez made 11 starts for the Nationals last season, going 4-5 with a 6.62 ERA (5.46 FIP), a 1.66 WHIP, and a .313 average against across 53 innings. It was a down year for Sanchez who was coming off back-to-back decent seasons in 2018 and 2019.

As recently as 2019, Sanchez went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 30 starts for the Nationals, logging 166 innings, a number that Sanchez hadn’t reached since the 2013 season. He also made three starts in the 2019 playoffs, giving up five earned runs across 18 innings with 18 strikeouts.

Between his recent success in the National League East and familiarity with Philadelphia Phillies leadership, signing Anibal Sanchez makes sense as a low-cost pick-up. If he can come close to returning to his 2.5 fWAR performance of 2019, the Phillies would have themselves a valuable back-end piece.