Melky Cabrera Giants – The San Francisco Giants acquired switch-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera from Kansas City in exchange for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and minor-league pitcher Ryan Verdugo.
Cabrera, 27, is coming off his best season, having set career highs in batting average (.305), runs (102), hits (201), doubles (44), home runs (18), RBI (87) and stolen bases (20). His 85 RBI out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup ranked second in the majors behind the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson.
“Everybody thought he was in much better shape, more committed,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said of Cabrera. “What’s interesting is he’s already played a lot of baseball and he’s only 27, so we hope the breakout year is more indicative of where his career is headed.”
Known for his powerful arm — his 13 outfield assists tied for the sixth-highest in the majors — Cabrera played center field for the Royals but lacks range for the position, which could be especially detrimental at AT&T Park.
Manager Bruce Bochy said it’s too early to determine where Cabrera will fit in both in the field and the lineup. Regardless, the Giants believe he will help address what Sabean called “our acute need for more offense.”
Their average of 3.52 runs a game was the second-lowest in the majors last season and the biggest reason why the club missed the playoffs despite an ERA of 3.21, second-best in baseball.
Cabrera said he intends to continue the offseason regimen he believes contributed to his marked improvement. He posted a .671 OPS with the Atlanta Braves in 2010 and raised it to .809 in his one year in Kansas City.
“I had a bad season in Atlanta and I said that’s not me,” the Dominican-born Cabrera said in Spanish. “So I put it in my mind that I had to work to improve and perform better. That’s why I went to Miami to work out for five months. I hit the weights and worked on hitting, running the bases, everything. Thankfully, Kansas City gave me the chance to play everyday and I showed what I could do.”
Sanchez, who turns 29 on Nov. 19, became expendable with the emergence of Ryan Vogelsong but could become a valuable member of the rotation for the Royals, who starters’ ERA of 4.82 ranked as the second-worst in the majors.
Sanchez’s 2011 season was cut short by biceps tendinitis and an ankle sprain, and he went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. The year before, though, he had a 13-9 record with a 3.07 ERA and won the NL West clincher on the season’s final day.
He frequently frustrated the Giants by following some sharp outings with stretches of inconsistency. On July 10, 2009, Sanchez threw the first no-hitter by a San Francisco pitcher in 32 years, but he still finished the season with an 8-12 mark.
Even in 2010, when he held opposing hitters to a major-league-low .204 batting average, Sanchez led the NL with 96 walks.