Another baseball season nears the trade deadline and, as usual, the Pittsburgh Pirates are poised to sell instead of buy. Like last year with outfielder Jason Bay, they have a player that should fetch some excellent prospects in return – second baseman Freddy Sanchez.
Sanchez is a versatile player. In his career he’s played second base, third base and shortstop. Normally a player with that history on the defensive part of the diamond gets labeled as a “utility player,” but Sanchez is far from that. He’s also a batting champion. In 2006 Sanchez led the National League with a .344 batting average and a MLB-leading 53 doubles. Though he struggled through an injury-riddled 2008 season, he has rounded back into top form this year on a very bad team, hitting .316 through 74 games including three triples and a career high five stolen bases.
A guy with those numbers and such versatility is hard to come by. It’s logical to say, “Hey, Sports Geek, what makes you think this talent is on the market?” Good question, stranger. Two things make me think that. One, who wouldn’t want a player like Sanchez? Two, the Minnesota Twins are currently inquiring. Though Pirates beat writer Dejan Kovacevic said via Twitter that the Pirates and the Twins are not discussing a trade, the trade makes sense for both teams. The Pirates, as usual, need pitching, and the Twins system is stocked with talent. For the Twins, they’re willing to part with some good pitching prospects because they have a legitimate chance to win this year in a weakened American League Central Division if they add a former batting champ and solid defender to the lineup. The Twins system is especially rich in pitching with the AA New Britain Rock Cats. Names like Matt Fox (6-2 2.95 ERA) and Cole DeVries (5-6 2.96 ERA) are the most likely names to surface.
That only goes to the point that the Twins are a good trading partner right now, four weeks before the deadline. The Pirates are wise to “play the game” right now and deny teams are interested to the public while fielding offers in private. The closer the deadline gets, the greater the value of Sanchez, and the better return on the trade for the perpetually rebuilding Pirates.
Sanchez is the prototypical number two hitter on any team, regardless of league. He has the ability to hit the ball to any field, move runners when necessary, and during his career 2006 season was second in the National League with nine sacrifice flies. At 31 Sanchez possess a win-now attitude combined with the necessary experience and athleticism to be a huge asset to any team.