Theo Epstein thought he had a deal. The Cubs we the "mystery team" bidding on Tigers free agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez, and various Twitter reports Thursday afternoon said that the Cubs and Sanchez had come to an agreement on a five-year, $75 million free agent contract.
The Sanchez deal epitomized Epstein's "dual tracks" approach. Sanchez was a free-agent pitcher on the right side of 30. The contract was for a lot of money, but it wasn't onerous. Signing him would not have prevented the Cubs from going after better free agents in future seasons. The Cubs would have been better next season with Sanchez and he was young enough that he could have been a building block for the next winning Cubs team.
Epstein believed the Cubs' offer had been accepted. Instead, Sanchez and his agent, Gene Mato, took the Cubs' offer back to the Tigers and asked them to match. The Tigers wound up outbidding the Cubs; multiple Twitter reports have Sanchez going back to Detroit on a five-year, $80 million deal.
Now we're back to square one. The Cubs have gotten two potentially good pitchers this off-season in Scott Feldman and Scott Baker. But neither are likely to have the impact that Sanchez would have had.
So have at it. Curse (politely, please, and not at each other). Scream. Ask yourself what the Cubs have done to deserve this. But the Cubs and Cub fans are just going to have to move on.