Oct 30, 2009, 7:13 PM EDT
The Giants could have gone out and picked up Felipe Lopez or Ronnie Belliard to fill a colossal hole at second base at midseason, but they guessed wrong and picked Freddy Sanchez. They may well have lost the NL West in the process.
Not that they deserved to have things turn out so badly. Sanchez was hitting .296/.334/.442 when the Pirates when the Pirates opted to move him at the deadline. That decision was reached not long after Sanchez reportedly turned down a two-year, $10 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.
The rejection was a no-brainer for Sanchez. At the time, he was on pace to see his $8.1 million option for 2009 vest, and he knew he’d be worth at least that much in free agency anyway.
Unfortunately, things went sour for team and player after the deal. The Giants had to give up a better prospect in Tim Alderson than the Brewers did when they acquired Lopez earlier in the month, and in return, they got next to nothing. Sanchez missed time with shoulder and knee injuries while hitting just .284/.295/.324 in 102 at-bats for the Giants. Lopez ended up at .320/.407/.448 in 259 at-bats for the Brewers.
Because of the injuries, Sanchez missed out on seeing his option vest. That seemed like good news for the Giants, who were taken off the hook.
Giants GM Brian Sabean, though, decided he wanted to keep Sanchez around anyway, even after offseason knee surgery. The new deal is worth $12 million over two years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The option was torn up, so the Giants are actually getting him for $11.4 million, since they would have had to pay a $600,000 buyout had they let him go.
It’s a reasonable price. Sanchez, our No. 52 free agent, turns 32 this winter, and second basemen can lose it quickly in their early-30s. However, it’s more likely that Sanchez will simply remain injury-prone that it is that he’ll to turn into an Edgar Renteria-like liability. He’s a legitimate .290-.300 hitter, and assuming that he bounces back from knee surgery without incident, an average defender at second base.
Since it’s a mere two-year commitment, it’s hard to get too excited about this one either way. The philosophy, on the other hand, is a problem. Sabean’s tendency to target average players, in the hopes that they’ll remain average, certainly hasn’t worked out very well for the Giants.
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