Sanchez a worthwhile risk for Royals
November, 7, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesDespite his strong arm and upside, the Giants cut bait on left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.
The San Francisco Giants could not wait any longer for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to live up to his potential, sending him and minor leaguer Ryan Verdugo to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for center fielder Melky Cabrera.
Call it an underachieving pitcher for a second-division center fielder.
The flame-throwing Sanchez has long intrigued baseball people for his arm, displaying flashes of brilliance with a devastating slider and a mid-90s darting fastball. The problem is that his fastball has darted out of the strike zone more often than in it. In 708 career innings, Sanchez has struck out 736 men but also walked 376. The Royals liked him enough to trade their starting center fielder for him.
Cabrera enjoyed a good season, hitting .305 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs and showed some of the promise the Yankees thought they would see at some point after he made his big league debut in 2005. Like Sanchez, Cabrera has largely disappointed during his career so far, but he seemed to have turned a corner in 2011 and matured into a decent division outfielder. Verdugo has tremendous makeup and is a left-handed pitcher who pounds the zone and attacks hitters. He was put in the rotation last year with the intent of improving the quality of his pitches and struck out 9.2 men per nine innings for Double-A Richmond. However, the Royals see Verdugo as a quality left-handed setup reliever in the future for them.