Giants spend $12 million to retain Sanchez

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The Giants could have gone out and picked up Felipe Lopez or Ronnie Belliard to fill a colossal hole at second base at midseason, but they guessed wrong and picked Freddy Sanchez. They may well have lost the NL West in the process.
Not that they deserved to have things turn out so badly. Sanchez was hitting .296/.334/.442 when the Pirates when the Pirates opted to move him at the deadline. That decision was reached not long after Sanchez reportedly turned down a two-year, $10 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.
The rejection was a no-brainer for Sanchez. At the time, he was on pace to see his $8.1 million option for 2009 vest, and he knew he’d be worth at least that much in free agency anyway.
Unfortunately, things went sour for team and player after the deal. The Giants had to give up a better prospect in Tim Alderson than the Brewers did when they acquired Lopez earlier in the month, and in return, they got next to nothing. Sanchez missed time with shoulder and knee injuries while hitting just .284/.295/.324 in 102 at-bats for the Giants. Lopez ended up at .320/.407/.448 in 259 at-bats for the Brewers.
Because of the injuries, Sanchez missed out on seeing his option vest. That seemed like good news for the Giants, who were taken off the hook.
Giants GM Brian Sabean, though, decided he wanted to keep Sanchez around anyway, even after offseason knee surgery. The new deal is worth $12 million over two years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The option was torn up, so the Giants are actually getting him for $11.4 million, since they would have had to pay a $600,000 buyout had they let him go.
It’s a reasonable price. Sanchez, our No. 52 free agent, turns 32 this winter, and second basemen can lose it quickly in their early-30s. However, it’s more likely that Sanchez will simply remain injury-prone that it is that he’ll to turn into an Edgar Renteria-like liability. He’s a legitimate .290-.300 hitter, and assuming that he bounces back from knee surgery without incident, an average defender at second base.
Since it’s a mere two-year commitment, it’s hard to get too excited about this one either way. The philosophy, on the other hand, is a problem. Sabean’s tendency to target average players, in the hopes that they’ll remain average, certainly hasn’t worked out very well for the Giants.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.