The Giants just traded Jonathan Sanchez and a minor leaguer for Melky Cabrera. It is not the worst trade Brian Sabean has made, but neither is it his best. The most we can hope is that it’s a break-even deal. Sanchez was very frustrating to watch. He also threw the only no-hitter I have ever seen in person, and threw five shutout innings, picking up the win, in the final game of the 2010 season, pushing the Giants into the playoffs. Cabrera? He’s a typical Sabean guy: he never walks, he’s coming off the first really good season of his career, and his defense isn’t good enough to play centerfield at China Basin. The Giants need offense, but I don’t think Melky will help all that much.
You could do worse than subscribe to Joe Sheehan’s newsletter, even during the off-season. (Subscribe here.) He had this to say about the trade:
This is the point. The people with real MLB jobs don't really know all that much more than you do. They're going off the same things you're seeing, reacting to a season's worth of performance the same way you do. …
The Giants just don't get very much in exchange for a high-value property, in part because they sold at the absolute nadir of his value. They've dealt Sanchez based on his 2011, rather than his 2010, a huge mistake and waste of a resource. Cabrera just doesn't improve their offense all that much, even giving him credit for almost all of what he did last year. He can't bat in the middle of the lineup, and unless he hits .300 he can't bat in the top two spots. He'll give back runs with the glove in center. Suddenly, the Giants have blown through a lot of their rotation depth in dealing Sanchez and Zach Wheeler, and when Ryan Vogelsong meets the regression monster next year -- he could be the same guy and run an ERA a run higher -- suddenly the Giants may not have either the pitching or the hitting to win the NL West. There was a case for trading Jonathan Sanchez, but not for this little return.
Keith Law chimes in on ESPN (you need Insider to read the whole thing, and that’s another subscription that is worthwhile):
Melky Cabrera is a below-average defender in center who partially makes up for the lack of range with a strong arm, but AT&T Park is one of the least forgiving center field spots in the game. The Giants already made this mistake once by signing Aaron Rowand -- who was nothing special in a smaller center field in Philly -- to man center for them, and seemed to grasp the magnitude of the problem when they took speedy Gary Brown in the first round of the 2010 draft. Cabrera is just a one-year stopgap until Brown is ready (they hope), but when I call Cabrera a fourth outfielder, that doesn't mean the Giants get to play three others alongside him to make up for all the balls he won't catch.