Did Giants Trade for Pence Because They Knew Melky Cabrera Tested Positive?

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 11: San Francisco Giant fans hold up signs celebrating the birthdays of Melky Cabrera #53 (not pictured) and Pablo Sandoval #48 (not pictured) during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park on August 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Giants OF Melky Cabrera has been suspended 50 games without pay after testing positive for Testosterone.

BREAKING: Giants OF Melky Cabrera suspended 50 games without pay after testing positive for Testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance.

MLB (@MLB) August 15, 2012

To his credit, Melky didn't waste any time in accepting blame.

"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used ... I am deeply sorry for my mistake." - Melky Cabrera.

— MLB (@MLB) August 15, 2012

That being said, the question has to be asked: when did the Giants know that Cabrera was facing a lengthy suspension, and was that the driving force behind their acquisition of Hunter Pence from the Phillies?

CSN's Andrew Baggerly says absolutely not:

The Giants were not notified of Cabrera's positive test until today. Team the last to know in these cases. They had heard rumors, though,

— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) August 15, 2012

Giants' GM Brian Sabean is no fool, and he's been in the business long enough to know that when there are rumors and speculation surrounding a player failing a drug test, chances are there's some truth behind them. Case in point: can you name a player in the past few years who was rumored to have failed a drug test and didn't?

Sabean told Chris Haft of MLB.com that the move was made with their division rivals, the Dodgers, in mind:

The three games against the Dodgers weren't pretty. We kind of took that personally. We were hoping we could use something from the outside like they did. And now, after going through the five-game losing streak and seeing we need a lift and need to hang in there until we get everybody back, I'm glad we were able to make a move.

In some ways, it is a reaction to not only playing them and getting swept, but also knowing to a point they were going to be extremely active. You didn't want them to be able to outdistance you, based on personnel moves that you didn't pursue.

Pence is going to receive a substantial raise from his $10.4 million salary in arbitration this winter, and when combined with the nearly $15 million in raises that are coming to Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito—not to mention Cabrera's impending free agency and the team's intention of re-signing him—it's fair to wonder how the Giants were going to afford the additional payroll.

While they can shed almost $24 million with the expiring contracts of players like Jeremy Affeldt, Aubrey Huff, Angel Pagan and Freddy Sanchez, that doesn't mean that they will let all of those players walk. Add in the team's desire to improve their bullpen and the salaries add up rather quickly.

At the end of the day, does it really matter whether the Giants had advanced knowledge of Melky's failed test?

Probably not. They may have decided to pursue Pence via trade this winter regardless.

But Cabrera was the MVP of the All-Star Game, a game that gave the National League home-field advantage in the World Series—and we all know that making an exhibition game count has seen plenty of criticism thrown at commissioner Bud Selig.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News adds fuel to the fire by pointing out that the Giants reportedly offered Cabrera a three-year, $27 million extension last month—a bit low for a player leading the league in batting average and hits, don't ya think?

It just makes you wonder who really knew what when—and with Cabrera directly impacting the World Series, the black eye that baseball thought had fully healed is back in full force once again.