The Giants traded Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera
The San Francisco Giants, finally tired of the enigmatic Jonathan Sanchez, traded him to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera fills a need for the Giants, and there was no guarantee that the Giants would have offered Sanchez salary arbitration, so this deal made a lot of sense.
Sanchez is likely to make roughly $5.5 million in 2012, and the Giants were not excited to pay that amount for a pitcher who was not going to make the starting rotation.
The Giants have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong in the top four spots in their rotation. All four were in the top 10 in the National League in ERA in 2011.
The Giants are also stuck with Barry Zito and his albatross of a contract. He is still owed $19 million in 2012, $20 million in 2013 and a $7 million buyout that will undoubtedly be paid. The Giants do not want to eat the remaining $46 million, so Zito will get the first shot at holding down the fifth spot in the rotation.
With no starting spot for Sanchez, the Giants jumped at the chance to trade him for a starting center fielder, who will also bat in the lead-off spot in 2012.
The Giants are unlikely to spend much money for a pitcher to replace Sanchez. The ideal candidate will be a long reliever, who can also double as a spot starter. Alternatively, the Giants may look to fortify their already strong bullpen. Most importantly, this pitcher will not be an expensive acquisition.
In addition, the Giants are unlikely to sign a pitcher who is considered a class A or B free agent, as they will not want to lose draft picks.
Let's take a look at some of the pitchers who might be attractive replacements for Sanchez.
Sergio Mitre played for the Yankees last year
Sergio Mitre will be 31 years old when the 2012 season starts. He has a lot of experience both as a starter and in relief.
Mitre has a career ERA of 5.21 and WHIP of 1.487. In 454.2 career innings, Mitre has struck out 265 batters.
He made $900,000 in 2011, and the Giants would be able to sign him for around the $1 million mark.
Jeremy Accardo broke in with the Giants in 2005
Jeremy Accardo began his career with the Giants in 2005. In the mid part of 2006, he was traded to Toronto for pitcher Vinnie Chulk and Shea Hillenbrand.
Hillenbrand was expected to inject some offensive fire power to the Giants' offense, but that simply did not happen. Accardo had his best season in 2006, when he closed 30 games and had an ERA of 2.14.
Accardo's performance has slipped the past couple years, and his ERA was 5.73 in 2011.
Accardo earned $1.08 million last year, and it's likely the Giants could sign him for the same general amount.
Armando Galarraga pitched for the Diamondbacks in 2011
Armando Galarraga will forever be remembered as the pitcher who lost his perfect game due to a missed call by umpire Jim Joyce. After pitching the prior three seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Galarraga pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. He actually shuttled back and forth from the minors.
Galarraga can pitch as a starter or in relief. He made $2.3 million in 2011 and it's likely the Giants could sign him for around that same level.
Galarraga has a high career ERA of 4.69 and WHIP of 1.382, however, he has pitched in two ballparks known for offense in Detroit and Arizona.
In coming to San Francisco, Galarraga would benefit from pitching in the more pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Chad Qualls had a run-in with Andres Torres in 2011
Chad Qualls has pitched for five teams in his eight seasons in the major leagues. The journeyman pitcher has always been a reliever and had a good year in 2011 with the Padres.
Last year, Qualls had a bounce-back season and 74.1 pitched innings. He fashioned an ERA of 3.51—his best since 2008. Qualls had a WHIP of 1.251 and has experience as a closer.
Pitching in the spacious home park in San Diego was good for Qualls, and if he moved north to San Francisco, he would also enjoy the heavy air of AT&T Park.
Qualls made $2.55 million in 2011, and after his solid campaign, would be due a raise.
If the Giants can sign him for around $3 million, they should definitely consider it.
Michael Wuertz could move right across the Bay from Oakland
Michael Wuertz will be entering his ninth season in the majors. He has pitched his entire career in relief and could assume a middle-inning role with the Giants.
Wuertz has thrown 414.1 innings, with 444 strike outs, a career ERA of 3.71 and WHIP of 1.320. Over the past two years, however, Wuertz has seen his ERA balloon up. He had his best year in 2009 when he had an ERA of 2.63 and WHIP of 0.953.
Wuertz made $2.8 million in 2011, and after two subpar years, could be acquired for less.
Juan Gutierrez has a live, power arm
Juan Gutierrez has pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the past three seasons. He is 28 years old and has a power arm. Gutierrez has thrown 167.1 innings and struck out 152 batters. His career ERA is 4.79, with a WHIP of 1.416.
Gutierrez earned $431,000 in 2011 and is arbitration eligible. If the Diamondbacks do not offer him arbitration, the Giants should be able to sign him for less than $1 million.
Gutierrez also has experience as a closer, when he had 15 saves in 2010.
Guillermo Mota has pitched for the Giants since 2010
Guillermo Mota has pitched for the Giants for each of the past two seasons. Mota is 38 years of age and will be entering his 14th season in 2012. Over these past two years, Mota has been a valuable innings eater for the Giants.
As a Giant, Mota has thrown 134.1 innings, allowing only 120 hits, while striking out 115 batters. Mota has pitched his entire career as a reliever but would be able to spot start and give you four or five innings.
In 2011, Mota made $1.4 million. He should be available to the Giants for around that same general asking price. He proved that he can still be a very effective pitcher. Mota could continue his role as a long reliever out of the bullpen, if he were to sign with the Giants.
Chris Capuano had a solid season for the Mets
Chris Capuano would be a very attractive acquisition for the Giants. After battling arm problems, Capuano came through the 2011 season healthy and had a decent year with the Mets.
Capuano won 11 games for the Mets in 2011 and threw 186 innings, primarily in a starting role. He does have relief experience and could be a valuable long-man out of the bullpen and spot starter. Capuano had an ERA of 4.55 and WHIP of 1.349 last year and struck out 168.
Capuano also made only $1.5 million last year, and the Giants could probably land him with a contract offer in the $2.5 million range.
Dave Bush pitched for the Rangers in 2011
Bush has a career ERA of 4.70 and WHIP of 1.305. He had a poor season with the Rangers in 2011, as his ERA ballooned up to 5.79. Bush would benefit from pitching in the more pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
The Giants should be able to sign Bush for about what he made in 2011, which was $1 million.
Joel Zumaya missed all of the 2011 season
At one time, Joel Zumaya was considered a mainstay in the bullpen for the Detroit Tigers. Then he experienced arm trouble and had surgery in 2010. He missed all of the 2011 season and is rounding back into form. He plans to play winter ball and hopes to catch on with a team as a free agent.
When Zumaya was healthy, he was a power pitcher with a live arm. In 209.2 career innings, all in relief, Zumaya struck out 210 batters. Zumaya's career ERA is 3.05, with a WHIP of 1.350.
The Giants should watch Zumaya's progress, and if he looks good in winter ball, should consider offering him a contract for 2012.
Zumaya made $1.4 million last year, and the Giants should certainly be able to sign him for that or perhaps even less.
Brian Sabean will be looking for bargains in this free agent market.
As you can see, the list of potential free agents for the Giants to consider as a replacement for Jonathan Sanchez, is not very exciting.
My gut feeling is that the Giants won't go out and spend much money on a replacement for Sanchez. The Giants have a full staff of bullpen pitchers, and it could come down to whether a pitcher has a better spring than Guillermo Mota, for that final spot.
GM Brian Sabean is also focused on upgrading the Giants' offense, so the spot vacated by Sanchez is not of the utmost important.
If Barry Zito falters, the Giants also have Eric Surkamp waiting in the wings.