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.