Giants shore up infield with Pirates' Sanchez

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Giants acquire 2B Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates for RHP Tim Alderson
The price was quite a bit higher than expected, though I think Alderson’s rep is a bit overblown. The Pirates still did far better here than the Diamondbacks did in the Felipe Lopez trade.
Sanchez fills a big need for the Giants, who had tried Emmanuel Burriss, Kevin Frandsen, Matt Downs, Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez at second base. He doesn’t offer a whole lot besides the .300 average, but he’s a nice No. 2 hitter and a steady defender. I don’t like the idea of paying him $8.1 million next year, but that’s what he’ll earn if his vesting option kicks in with 600 plate appearances. He’s at 382 right now, so he’s on pace to top that total.
The Giants should be looking at a lineup of:
RF Randy Winn
2B Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Bengie Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
1B Ryan Garko/Travis Ishikawa
SS Edgar Renteria
LF Nate Schierholtz
Fred Lewis, Andres Torres and Velez will keep helping out in the outfield with Rowand and Schierholtz hurt.
It’s the still the weakest lineup of any NL contender, but there are no longer any major holes.
In Alderson, the Pirates are getting a 20-year-old right-hander who was 6-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 13 starts since moving up to Double-A Connecticut. For the year, he’s allowed 107 hits, walked 17 and struck out 66 in 98 2/3 innings. He has a strikeout curve that he’ll probably use more in the majors. His fastball is just average for a right-hander, and his changeup needs work. That the Giants have had him focusing on the change more frequently has taken a toll on his numbers this year, but could pay off in the end. He should debut sometime next summer. My guess is that he’ll be a No. 4 starter, but he could turn into something more with an improved change.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.