The Kansas City Royals, with a potential center fielder ready to get his shot, traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to San Francisco for left-handed starter Jonathan Sanchez and a young prospect.
Cabrera, 27, had a career year in 2011, batting .305, with 201 hits, 44 doubles, and 18 homers – well beyond any season he put together while a member of the Yankees or Braves. Sanchez turns 29 on the 18th and comes off a poor season where he missed time due to bicep tendonitis. Sanchez had a fantastic 2010, but returned to his more erratic ways in 201, walking 66 in just over 100 innings of work. Both players become free agents at the end of 2011, and the Giants apparently will save a couple of million in salary for next year.
For the Royals, this gives Lorenzo Cain a shot at being the regular center fielder – better range, might be a comparable bat with a little less power. And, it gives the Royals a mid-level starter should Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen not return in 2012. The Giants get an insurance policy in center or left fields, but to be honest – he’s only marginally better than a healthy Andres Torres or Nate Schierholtz. If nothing else, Cabrera would be a candidate to have worse stats, moving to the spacious home at AT&T Park and having to play road games in Los Angeles and San Diego (as well as regressing from his peak season). And who knows how Sanchez is going to fare – he throws the ball all over the place and is frustrating when you see someone with his kind of stuff have no idea where it’s going. We’re talking about someone with a no-hitter and a string of bad starts (and now a slight injury history).
Pitcher Ryan Verdugo was the third player in the deal, a 9th round draft pick in 2008 by the Giants out of LSU. Last year, as a starter, Verdugo was pretty good – this after a couple years in relief where he seemed unhittable if not slightly wild. He doesn’t have a grade A fastball, but he throws hard enough and couples it with a nasty change up. He tends to walk too many people, so improvement in his command might make him a Royals roster member in 2013 as a long or middle reliever.