Giants Trading Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera a Great Offseason Start: Fan’s Reaction

After much clamoring by San Francisco Giants fans to improve the team's struggling offense, Giants general manager Brian Sabean did just that with the club's most recent trade with the Kansas City Royals. In the second significant trade since the end of the 2011 World Series (Derek Lowe(notes) was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Cleveland Indians last week), the Giants acquired outfielder Melky Cabrera(notes) from the Royals for arbitration-eligible Jonathan Sanchez(notes) and Double-A pitcher Ryan Verdugo.

San Francisco Giants OF Melky Cabrera as a member of the Atlanta Braves
Wikimedia Commons

Looking at Sabean's history of acquiring center fielders, some fans may view this as a reoccurring trend representing a typical Sabean transaction. From Marvin Benard to Dave Roberts, the Giants have cycled through various outfielders in center field for quite some time.

Also, the acquisition of Cabrera may be seen as an odd move if they feel he is on par or less of a player than Andres Torres(notes), a player the team might bring back for 2012. From his less-than-inspiring days with the New York Yankees to a possible fluke season last year with the Royals, Cabrera's move to the Bay Area is one that can be criticized.

Despite all the claims doubting the Cabrera trade, I see this as a great move for the Giants. Cabrera, 27, is just entering the typical top-performing years for MLB players. With less pressure and guaranteed playing time in Kansas City, Cabrera displayed his talent after a horrendous year with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .305 with 44 doubles, 18 homers, and 87 RBIs in his first and only season for the Royals.

While his defense isn't great in center field (Cabrera is seen as a below-average defender in almost all defensive metrics), Cabrera's defensive deficiencies will be lessened with the presence of Nate Schierholtz(notes) in right field, particularly when managing the deep right-center field of AT&T Park (assuming Cabrera and Schierholtz are starting in the outfield). Aside from picking up a play that produced solid numbers last season from the Royals, the Giants also avoid having to possibly overpay for other free agent center field options like Coco Crisp(notes) and Grady Sizemore(notes).

The biggest positive I find from this trade is the unloading of Sanchez. Expected to earn a nice sum of money through arbitration or a new long-term contract, the Giants were definitely looking to see whether they could find help elsewhere rather than paying so much for a No. 5 starter. Struggling for most of 2011 with a 4-7 record, 4.26 ERA, 66 walks, and left ankle sprain concerns, I expected the team to receive much less than a quality outfielder with top-of-the-lineup capabilities in Cabrera.

While this trade will hopefully not mean the end to the improvements for the Giants lineup, the acquisition of Cabrera is definitely a step in the right direction, as Sabean was able to fill a position of need, trade away a unneeded commodity, and improve an offense that desperately needed help.

Sources:

Royals send OF Cabrera to Giants for LHP Sanchez, AP

Melky Cabrera Profile, Yahoo! Sports

Melky Cabrera Statistics and History, Baseball-Reference.com

Jonathan Sanchez Profile, Yahoo! Sports

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Austin Chang is a lifelong San Francisco Bay Area native, baseball fan, and supporter of the San Francisco Giants.

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Updated Monday, Nov 7, 2011