It sounds like the Giants and Pirates are close on a trade involving Freddy Sanchez. Along with the Giants, the Twins have also expressed great interest in Sanchez. Unfortunately, the Pirates and Giants are currently facing each other in San Francisco which gives the two teams a chance to talk face-to-face and hammer out a deal.
It's no secret that Sanchez is essentially the perfect fit for the Twins. He hits left-handed pitchers at a very high clip, he plays at a position of real weakness, and is a perfect No. 2 hitter. Even though he's owed $8 million next season, it's well within the Twins' "budget" that they should be fielding upon entering their first season at Target Field.
But with the Giants in the mix all along and now looking to pull away with it, the Twins could be left in the dust. Thankfully, there are several alternatives the Twins could look into in case Sanchez is in fact dealt to another team.
Marco Scutaro has been mentioned. His salary isn't a problem and he's reportedly available, but the Twins have been told that he's probably not going to be traded until the Toronto Blue Jays decide the fate of Roy Halladay. The 33-year-old is putting up career numbers and although he's likely a two month fix only, he is currently projected to be a Type—A free agent meaning he'd bring the Twins a draft pick if he signs with another club.
He currently leads off, but he'd be a great No.2 hitter. He draws a lot of walks which in turn has helped him have a .388 on-base percentage this season. Having a player that gets on base and can still hit in front of Mauer would be a great asset.
And of course...
Orlando Cabrera has also been mentioned. Cabrera isn't a great fit but I do see him as a slight upgrade. Cabrera is due around $1.5 million for the rest of the season, which is not a problem at all.
The problem is that the Athletics have reportedly asked for Danny Valencia in return, which is not something the Twins are going to be doing. The Twins have also looked at trade options that would land them both Cabrera and A's reliever Mike Wuertz, but I still don't think they'd include Valencia in a trade for both of them.
It continues to become more and more clear that the A's might not be the best trade partners.
But if Sanchez or Scutaro fail, I think that there's another option that could be a potential fit, at least more so than Cabrera.
The Braves have grown sour of Kelly Johnson's streaky bat and mediocre defense. Obviously that's not a great selling point, but there's definitely a lot to like about Johnson.
Although he's probably not a top-of-the-order bat, both his career OBP and SLG percentages are higher than Sanchez's.
Sanchez mashes lefthanders, and while Johnson's numbers aren't as appealing, he does hit left-handed pitching much better than he hits right-handed pitching.
He has power. Johnson is an extra-base hitting machine and while the Twins would like the stay heavy from the left side, he could have a bright future in a lefthander-friendly environment like Minnesota.
He's only 26 years old and isn't eligible for free agency until 2012. Sanchez is 31 and is due $8 million next season before becoming a free agent in 2011.
Johnson has become the Delmon Young of the Braves, riding the bench for the majority of the time while starting just a couple times a week. With Martin Prado filling in adequately at second base, Johnson has become expendable and with the Braves desperately needing offense, the Twins could probably be a good fit for him.
Johnson's value is at an all-time low and he's under team control for a few more years, he'd definitely be a good fit for the Twins if they're not able to work out another trade.