Breaking Down The Jonathan Sanchez / Melky Cabrera Trade


Wow. Color me amused.

I really hoped Brian Sabean wouldn’t sell low on Jonathan Sanchez. I mean, his value couldn’t have been much lower at this point. But alas, Sabes strikes and he sends Joanthan Sanchez along with Ryan Verdugo (AA) to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera. Yes, that Melky Cabrera.

First, let’s break down what the Giants are getting in Melky…

Last season in Kansas City, Cabrera had a career year – and I’m not just saying that – he literally did. In 2010 (his only year in the National League, spent with the Atlanta Braves), the former Yankee prospect managed a .255 average with a .317 OBP% to go with 4 round trippers and 42 RIBEYEZ. In 2009, his final year in New York, the former high level prospect finished the season with a .274 average, .336 OBP% 13 homers and 68 RBI – his best season as a big leaguer until 2011 in Kansas City.

In what many deem as the “coming out years” for outfielders (26 and 27 – Melky was 26 this previous season), Cabrera clubbed his way to a solid .305 average to go with 18 dingers, 87 RBI and 20 stolen bases to go along with a solid .339 OBP%. All in all, a very solid offensive season at age 26.

Defensively, Cabrera isn’t much to write home about. He does have some mild range issues so trying to patrol the outfield in cavernous AT&T might prove to be a bit of an issue. I’d call him an average corner outfielder and a below average centerfielder. In short, bleh on the defensive end – eh on the offensive end.

Expecting Melky to repeat his 2010 performance in San Francisco is fool’s gold. He’s a better contact hitter than Andres Torres, but outside of that, the offensive peripherals between the two are nearly identical the past few years and he’s a sub par defensive player (far worse than Torres). I know it seems like I’m trying to sell Torres into something bigger than he is, but it’s far from that. I’m simply stating the upgrade is slight, if any.

As for what the Giants are losing….

Jonathan Sanchez is a bit of a headcase. When on, his stuff is downright filthy good – he had some of, if not the best swing and miss stuff on the Giants staff. The problem was the consistency. For every good start, there were two or three bad ones. Combine that with his impending free agency and the Giants lack of desire to sign him to a long term deal, the writing was on the wall for Sanchez for quite some time.

The Giants will now enter 2012 with Barry Zito as their fifth starter (sounds great, doesn’t it?) or an aging vet picked up out of Spring Training barring another trade – far from ideal.

Jonathan Sanchez, despite his issues, is still a good starter. The time to trade him wasn’t right now – at least, not in my opinion. The Giants had plenty of time to trade for a player like Cabrera – they rushed it.

You’re shocked. I know.

In addition to the physical loss of Sanchez, the trade also brings up some interesting roster decisions. With Bochy essentially giving Nate Schierholtz a starting spot in his end of the season press conference and the wishful/hopeful return of Carlos Beltran, where does that leave the Brandon Belt/Aubrey Huff combo? Actually, we know that answer – I’m just going to close my eyes, plug my ears and pretend it’s not reality. It also means the end of Cody Ross and/or Andres Torres in San Francisco.

So with that all said – I just can’t buy into this move. It’s a very minor upgrade offensively (again, if any, really) and the loss of a much needed fifth starter given the other options to start the season. Do I like it better than an outright signing of Coco Crisp? Sure. But I liked the thought of an STD more than Crisp – so….

If you think Melky can repeat his 2011 – then it’s hard to argue that it’s not a fantastic trade for the Giants, but nothing in Cabrera’s history suggests he’ll be able to do that again.

Ah well. There is your new centerfielder, Giant fans. Now off to the bargain bin to find another Todd Wellemeyer. GET EXCITED!!1!!!