Anibal Sanchez hadn't gone anywhere, really, and yet here he was getting a big "welcome back" from Detroit Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.
"It's nice to have you back in that jersey again," Dombrowski said Monday to his right-hander.
It wasn't cheap.
Detroit's deal with Sanchez is worth $80 million over five years, a person familiar with it told The Associated Press last week on condition of anonymity because terms weren't announced. The team said it has an option for a sixth season.
That's the price of doing business in the free agent market for pitchers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers recently gave Zack Greinke a $147 million, six-year deal — the biggest for a right-hander in baseball history — and Detroit is satisfied with what it had to spend on Sanchez, perhaps the second-best pitcher on the market.
"He's in the prime of his career," Dombrowski said.
The 28-year-old Sanchez helped Detroit reach the World Series this year. He had a 1.77 ERA in 20 1-3 innings over three post-season starts, but was 1-2 because the Tigers were shut out in each of his losses.
"We almost get the ring," he said. "Now, I know we got a pretty good team."
Detroit has been good enough to get into the playoffs the last two years. The Tigers hope to improve enough to take the next step and win their first World Series since 1984 thanks to a couple major moves and a standout player's comeback.
Detroit acquired Sanchez in July from Miami along with second baseman Omar Infante for right-hander Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. After a slow start with the Tigers, he pitched well in key games to help them win division titles in consecutive years for the first time since the 1935 and 1934 seasons with a 2.15 ERA over his last eight starts.
"Once he settled in and got a chance to get settled, he was one of the best pitchers in the league," Dombrowski said.
Sanchez is 48-51 with a 3.75 ERA since making his major league debut with the Marlins in 2006. He was 9-13 last year and 8-9 the previous year following a career-best, 13-win season in 2010.
Astros bring in Carlos Pena to DH
The Houston Astros have signed veteran Carlos Pena to be their designated hitter, addressing a key need as they prepare for their first season in the American League.
The 34-year-old Pena, who spent last season in his second stint with Tampa Bay, hit .197 with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs in 2012. Terms were not released Monday.
Pena had the best seasons of his career in his first stint with the Rays from 2007-2010 when he had at least 100 RBIs in three of those four seasons. His most productive year came in his first with the team when he hit 46 homers with 121 RBIs, both career-highs.
Pena started his career with the Rangers and has also played with Oakland, Detroit, Boston and the Cubs.
Cubs sign third baseman Stewart
The Chicago Cubs have announced a one-year contract with third baseman Ian Stewart.
Under the deal announced Monday, Stewart is guaranteed $2 million if he makes the opening-day roster and can earn another $500,000 in incentives. Acquired from Colorado last December, he batted .201 in 55 games and had season-ending left wrist surgery.
He became a free agent when the Cubs declined to tender him a 2013 contract.
To make room for Stewart on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated pitcher Jeff Beliveau for assignment. They also announced a two-year minor league deal with Korean reliever Chang-Yong Lim. He has pitched 17 seasons in Korea and in Japan and is recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
A's sign Japanese SS Nakajima
Two people with knowledge of the negotiations say the Oakland Athletics have agreed to sign shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan's Seibu Lions.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because there had yet to be a formal announcement. The AL West champion A's called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon described as a "major announcement."
Nakajima agreed to a $6.5 million, two-year contract. The deal also includes a $5.5 million option for a third season, one of the people said.
Nakajima, a seven-time Pacific League All-Star, has a .302 batting average with 149 home runs, 664 RBIs and 134 stolen bases over 11 seasons with Seibu.
He would fill a big void for Oakland, which traded away shortstop and second baseman Cliff Pennington to Arizona in an Oct. 21 trade that brought outfielder Chris Young to the A's.
The club also appears to have lost out on shortstop Stephen Drew, who was acquired in an August trade with Arizona. He batted .250 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 39 regular-season games with Oakland.
Nick Swisher visits Indians
Free agent Nick Swisher is visiting the Cleveland Indians, who have a hole to fill in right field.
Swisher, who won a World Series in his first of four seasons with the New York Yankees in 2009, is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland on Monday night and will tour the team's facilities at Progressive Field on Tuesday.
Last week, the Indians traded right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati as part of a three-team, nine-player deal. The team can entice Swisher, who hit 24 homers last season for the Yankees, with the chance to be their full-time right fielder.
Swisher is a career .256 hitter in stops with the Athletics, White Sox and Yankees. He had 93 RBIs last season, as well, as New York won the American League East.