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.