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Spiegel: Cubs Seemingly Just A Pawn In Anibal Sanchez’s Game

Anibal Sanchez. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Anibal Sanchez. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

spiegs Matt Spiegel
For the last decade, Matt Spiegel has been a nationally syndicated...
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By Matt Spiegel-

(CBS) The near misses for Theo Epstein’s Cubs are piling up.

Over the last six months, three separate deals have been reported as basically done, only to wither and die amidst all too public complications.

The trend would be troubling, if the dots truly connected.  But they don’t.

Ryan Dempster’s eventually rebuffed deal to become a Brave was first reported by the beat writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Dreams of pitching prospect Randall Delgado eventually went away amidst an invoked no-trade clause; Dempster evokes ire now and in perpetuity.  Enjoy Boston and the AL East.

The bad money exchange with the Angels in which Dan Haren was bathed in Cubdom for about four Twitter hours was leaked by Carlos Marmol, to a Spanish language reporter in the Dominican Republic.  Marmol is still being openly shopped, while Haren ended up as a National.

And yesterday’s surprising, then ultimately disappointing, Anibal Sanchez tease appears to have been a skillfully played public game from Sanchez’s agent.  The information flowed from USA Today’s well connected Bob Nightengale, with unattributed contextual tweets mixed in with direct agent quotes.

These are unfortunate byproducts of the modern age.  Social media vultures swoop for rumor chum, often feasting with hazardous results.  Power brokers playfully negotiate a few more million by inciting panic in the target destination.  The perception of a growing list of suitors is more important than the reality.

Anyone drawing the fault line from Dempster, through Marmol and Sanchez, and back towards the Cubs front office is doing so lazily, and hastily.  Details are right there for you.

Or, right here if needed.

As it stands, though, the “thought-we-had-‘em” Cubs roster looks better than the actual one

***

As for the Sanchez interest to begin with, well, that’s the surprising part.  Is this really the time to pounce on that first plus-money free agent?  Is Sanchez the “right guy at the right time” Theo and Jed Hoyer have often referred to?

He’s 28, and has pitched more than 190 innings in each of the last 4 years.  He’s coming off a very solid three start effort in his first postseason.  His make-up is known well by Epstoyer from his days as a one-time Red Sox prospect.  This could be the very beginning of his true prime.

But the Cubs aren’t remotely ready to compete in 2013, in so many areas.  A signing of this magnitude does not fit with the roster’s current reality, nor does it gibe with what the public plan has been.

Maybe Epstoyer thinks they’re closer than they’ve intimated.

Maybe they wanted to pounce while the Sanchez market remained distinctly non-Greinkian.  No $147 mil over six years is in play.  Locking a guy of this caliber in at fice years, $75 million has its value, assuming he pitches to form in years two through five.

This kind of plan-accelerating move would be startling, and a bit confounding; a financial leap forwards completely out of nowhere while problematic contracts like Marmol and Alfonso Soriano remain on the books.

If Sanchez were a Cub today, 2013 gets a lot more interesting.  Sanchez, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker, and Scott Feldman is a legitimate big league rotation.  A fan base would be shown financial commitment before they could have expected it.

But I think the Cubs were but a pawn in Anibal’s plan.  He wanted to be a Tiger all along, and his agent used the Cubs to get a few more million.

It’s the way a sordid game is played.

Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show and Sundays from 9am–Noon CT on Hit And Run. Follow him on Twitter @MattSpiegel670.