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.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.