I wasn’t for the idea of trading Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson this past season. There were two reasons for this. The first reason was that the Pirates didn’t have any replacements ready in the upper levels of their minor league system to take over for Sanchez and Wilson. The other reason was that I didn’t think the Pirates would get much of a return for either player.
All along we had heard about how Sanchez and Wilson were over-priced. I could see that with Wilson, but Sanchez seemed to be priced pretty reasonably, even when you consider his $8 M option next season. Sanchez hit for a .293/.326/.416 line with seven homers in 457 at-bats and solid defense, thanks to Perry Hill. Orlando Hudson hit for a .283/.357/.417 line this year and made about $8 M with incentives and bonuses. So the $8 M wasn’t outrageous, although I doubt Sanchez gets that on the open market.
When the Pirates landed Tim Alderson for Sanchez, I was shocked. We had heard that the Giants were proposing a Jonathan Sanchez for Freddy Sanchez trade. The Pirates briefly looked ridiculous turning that down and watching Jonathan Sanchez throw a no-hitter in his next outing. The decision proved to be a good one, as Sanchez is pretty much an Oliver Perez clone. That said, I don’t think anyone expected the Pirates to land Tim Alderson at that point.
The reviews on Alderson are split right down the middle. Alderson is only 20 years old, 6′ 7″, and 217 pounds. He throws 88-92 MPH, although his big frame could allow him to add velocity in the future. That’s where the split lies. Some scouts don’t believe Alderson will add velocity, making him a 3-5 starter. Other scouts believe Alderson will add velocity, making him a top of the rotation starter.
As for Sanchez, the best part of the deal was the Pirates pulled it all off while Sanchez was injured. It’s not like the Pirates were deceptive with the deal. They traded Sanchez after he missed a three game series against San Francisco with a knee injury that would bother him the rest of the season. The San Francisco doctors checked him out during that series. They knew the risks. In the end, Sanchez recorded just 102 at-bats in the final two months of the season, and there’s no guarantee his option gets picked up next year, although the Giants may pick it up to save face for trading Alderson.
When you trade a player straight up for a prospect, you’re literally putting all of your eggs in one basket. The success of this trade depends on whether or not Alderson works out, although that doesn’t mean he has to be a top of the rotation starter to work out. The big question now is, who takes over second base?
Delwyn Young is nothing but a project at this point, and can’t be relied on as a starter. Shelby Ford had a horrendous year in AAA, and didn’t have any success after a demotion to AA. The next best options are Chase d’Arnaud and Josh Harrison, although second base isn’t the natural position for either player, and both players were in high-A ball this past year.
The way I see it, the Pirates were willing to commit $10 M for two years of Sanchez. They now have a hole at second base, a top pitching prospect as a result of that hole, and $10 M to spend over two years, which should bridge the gap for one of the prospects to arrive. If the Pirates use that money on a free agent that can put up similar production to Sanchez, this deal is an easy win, as it would essentially result in the Pirates adding a top pitching prospect for next to nothing.