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.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.