Freddy Sanchez seemed like a worthwhile midseason pickup at the time. After all, he was a 31-year-old career .300 hitter batting .296/.334/.442 in 86 games with the Pirates and the Giants desperately needed some help offensively.
Instead of providing a big upgrade at second base Sanchez has hit just .284/.295/.325 while missing half of San Francisco’s games with shoulder and knee injuries, the latter of which will require surgery at some point. For the now the Giants are still clinging to slim playoff hopes, so Sanchez will try to put off surgery until the offseason and contribute something down the stretch.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether the Giants will exercise their $8.1 million option on Sanchez for next season. At the time of the trade that seemed like a foregone conclusion, but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News now calls it “almost automatic” that they’ll decline the option and “talk to Sanchez about a two-year contract at a lower figure.”
Baggarly also notes that both the Giants and Pirates were aware that Sanchez would likely require offseason knee surgery when they made the July 29 trade. In fact, Sanchez sat out a three-game series against the Giants directly preceding the swap. Asked if he regrets trading a quality pitching prospect in Tim Alderson for what has turned out to be 25 games of terrible hitting and mediocre defense from Sanchez, Giants general manager Brian Sabean said:
I know at the time we made the trade everybody was all-in, including the medical team, that we could keep him on the field,. The bigger thing with Freddy is he hasn’t been on the field because of other things, including the left shoulder. He didn’t have the chance to be out there on a regular basis. You can’t deny that Freddy, when he’s been out there, has been every bit a No. 2 hitter that we didn’t have, and an All-Star second baseman.
Of course, you can deny exactly that, because Sanchez has a lowly .295 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage for the Giants, which isn’t exactly ideal atop the lineup. Perhaps the Giants will end up re-signing Sanchez at a discounted rate and perhaps he’ll bounce back with a healthy, productive 2010, but so far the trade has been a bust and with several quality middle infielders set to become free agents this offseason the Giants are probably right to decline Sanchez’s option.
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.
The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:
Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.
Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.
Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.
Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.
He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.
In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.