Jonathan Sanchez Trade: What It Means for the Giants
In case you hadn't heard, the San Francisco Giants traded SP Jonathan Sanchez to the Kansas City Royals for OF Melky Cabrera today. The Giants have had a lot of speculation regarding Sanchez's future with the team for quite some time, and now we know it is over. The big question is, what does Melky Cabrera's acquisition mean for the rest of the Giants' offseason goals? Let's find out.
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Melky Cabrera originally came up with the Yankees and was meant to be stud prospect, holding down the outfield in The Bronx for the foreseeable future. Although he put up some respectable numbers while there, he was eventually traded to Atlanta and then to Kansas City, where he played his 2011 season.
2011 was, statistically, the best of his career, as he hit .305 with 18 HR and 87 RBI, while also racking up 44 doubles. Also, Cabrera has played all three OF positions in his career, but spent the majority of last season in CF, a position of great need for the Giants. The "Melk Man" is also a switch hitter, which gives the Giants even more offensive flexibility. If Cabrera can replicate his 2011 production, the Giants may have made a very good move here.
Coco Crisp/Grady Sizemore
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The Giants have been linked to both of these center fielders for much of the off-season. But, with Cabrera now patrolling CF for the Giants, the likelihood of acquiring either of these players has taken a huge hit. While Cabrera could potentially move to LF or RF in order to make room for one of these guys, I just do not see it happening. The Giants would like to have Schierholtz and Belt in the lineup, and the only way that would happen is if they are in RF and LF, respectively.
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Carlos Beltran is no longer a CF, and the Giants know that. Therefore, the trade for Cabrera does not necessarily spell the end of Beltran's tenure as a Giant, but it may lessen the chances of a continuance.
Re-signing the recently Scott Boras-less and, possibly more affordable, Beltran would mean two things: Either Belt or Schierholtz would be on the bench on a daily basis, but also the Giants' lineup would have two solid additions in the middle to go along with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.
Imagine these three through seven hitters everyday for the Giants: Beltran, Posey, Sandoval, Cabrera and Belt, with Aubrey Huff falling in line somewhere. There is a lot of potential there, including five players who could easily hit 20+ HRs.
Cody Ross/Andres Torres
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Sadly (or not so sadly), this likely spells the end of both of these players as Giants.
Ross and Torres struggled mightily in 2011, as both battled injuries and the incredibly difficult task of batting over .250. Ross ended up hitting .240 while Torres batted an embarrassing .221. The sparks they provided during the Giants' 2010 World Series winning run had clearly been extinguished, and Torres showed his doubters why, up until 2010, he had been the quintessential AAA player.
The Pitching Staff
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So, now the Giants will be starting 2012 the way they ended 2011, without Jonathan Sanchez slotted in the middle of their rotation. This will most likely mean Bumgarner will hold down the No. 3 spot in the rotation so that he can break up the string of right handers. Vogelsong will likely fill out the No. 4 spot, with Lincecum and Cain obviously being No. 1 and No. 2. The question is, who will represent the back end?
Zito is still on the roster and will definitely be closely evaluated during spring training. Eric Surkamp was promoted last season after putting up a ridiculous ERA at AA Richmond to go along with more than impressive strikeout numbers. The problem is, these numbers did not translate to the his starts with the Giants, as he often looked overmatched and consistently threw too many pitches.
There is also the chance the Giants could go externally to acquire a fifth starter.
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Most people felt that the Giants' two main priorities this off-season were center field and shortstop. Now that one of these is essentially filled, where does that leave us on the other priority?
The Giants have been linked (fairly or not) to both Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins all off-season, and now that they have filled their other main void without adding a new contract or significant raise in salary (Melky Cabrera made $1.25 MM in 2011 but is arbitration eligible before the 2012 season), it is fair to wonder whether San Francisco will pursue either of these hot commodities.
My gut still says no, but it is awfully intriguing that they have traded away Sanchez for an everyday player that fills a void, while still not having signed anyone as of yet. Needless to say, our lineup would be more than solid with Reyes or Rollins.