OAKLAND -- The Tigers and manager Jim Leyland both say they'll address his contract situation once their season ends. Leyland in particular doesn't want his status to become a distraction for his team during its postseason run.
That said, he might have put to rest the speculation that he might decide to walk away. After a report from CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said Leyland has been telling friends he doesn't plan on retirement at season's end, Leyland said as much to reporters.
It wasn't that clear at times, given how many occasions in recent weeks he used the word "if" when talking about next season.
Leyland is finishing up a one-year contract he signed last August. When his contract wasn't extended at the same point this season, it became apparent that something was a factor, believed to be the Tigers' postseason status. His contract status has remained up in the air since.
Even if Leyland was safe from an organizational decision, there was some speculation he could step aside if the Tigers win the World Series, going out the same way his good friend Tony La Russa did last year after the Cardinals won it all.
At this point, Leyland appears committed to the year-to-year contracts La Russa signed in St. Louis until he stepped away.
Tigers open to re-signing Sanchez
OAKLAND -- When the Tigers acquired Anibal Sanchez in July, the widespread belief -- furthered by indications in the organization -- was that he was a two-month rental for Detroit to bolster its rotation for the division race and the postseason. If anybody in the trade had a longer-term fit, it was Omar Infante, under contract through next season to fill the hole at second base.
That might no longer be the case. Or maybe it never was.
A day after team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News that Sanchez is "a player we'd like to keep," he told MLB.com that he acquired Sanchez with the idea of being open toward re-signing him beyond this season.
Dombrowski didn't want to talk in depth about Sanchez's situation, preferring to avoid the potential distraction during the Tigers' postseason run. Still, he confirmed they're definitely open to a new contract for the soon-to-be free agent.
Sanchez does not want to talk about his contract situation until season's end, but he has indicated at various points that he has enjoyed pitching in Detroit in front of large crowds with playoff expectations. Those who know Sanchez indicate he has been treated well since coming over from Miami.
That doesn't mean Sanchez is a lock for next season. He's set to hit the market as one of the top free-agent starters not named Zack Greinke. And the Tigers under Dombrowski have never spent big on a free-agent starter, preferring to build their rotation from within while adding young pitchers before they hit big-market salaries.
The Tigers will head into the offseason with five starters under team control for next season, but four of them set for bigger money. Justin Verlander will make $20 million again next season and the year after, while Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister are all up for arbitration. Drew Smyly is the lone cost-controlled starter.
If the Tigers re-sign Sanchez, it would appear likely to come at the expense of one of their arbitration-eligible starters.
Leyland says Melvin, Showalter top AL managers
OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has had no shortage of praise for his old Minor League catcher, A's manager Bob Melvin, for the job he has done turning around the record and the culture in Oakland. On Tuesday, with the A's potentially a loss away from their magical season coming to an end, Leyland went a step further.
"Not to put the cart before the horse, but I hope that [Orioles manager] Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin are Co-Managers of the Year this year," Leyland said. "I think this would be a year there should be two guys get the award, I would say this would be the year."
If the Tigers move on to the American League Championship Series, Leyland could be going up against Showalter, whose Orioles headed to New York with their AL Division Series tied at a game apiece. They'll play Game 3 on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Fittingly, the Tigers beat out another team led by a Manager of the Year candidate, Robin Ventura's White Sox, to win the AL Central.
Leyland's one-liner of the night came when he was asked about his initial reaction when the Tigers signed Prince Fielder in January."The first thing I thought," he said, "was that we found a whole bunch of money in a short period of time because we couldn't even sign a relief pitcher for a million dollars about a week before that. So evidently we sold a lot of Little Caesars [pizzas] in a short period of time. And I'm glad we did." Miguel Cabrera has reached base safely in all 14 of his postseason games with the Tigers, the third-longest streak in franchise history. Hank Greenberg set the Tigers' standard with an 18-game streak, while Charlie Gehringer had a 16-game stretch. Don Kelly's game-winning sac fly on Sunday made him the third player in Major League history to deliver a walk-off RBI in a postseason game after entering as a pinch-runner. Aaron Boone did it with his memorable home run for the Yankees to win Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Houston's Chris Burke did it in Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series.