Sanchez signs two-year contract
Veteran expected to play important role in lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants used six second basemen last season. If they and Freddy Sanchez get their way, that number will sharply decrease next year.Hoping to add stability to the lineup and sock to the offense, the Giants re-signed Sanchez to a two-year contract on Friday, a move that was somewhat expected but still a hurdle to be cleared for both sides. The Giants, who ranked 11th in batting and 13th in runs scored among National League teams in 2009, can rest assured they'll have a .299 career hitter on their side. Sanchez, limited to 25 games by shoulder and knee injuries after San Francisco acquired him from Pittsburgh for right-handed pitching prospect Tim Alderson on July 29, can concentrate on healing without the distraction of wondering where he's headed. Bitterly disappointed with himself for not being able to help the Giants consistently as they struggled to stay in postseason contention late in the season, Sanchez sounded eager for another opportunity.
"I try to be as loyal a person as I can," said Sanchez, who insisted he's ahead of schedule in rehabilitating both his strained left shoulder, which put him on the disabled list in August, and the torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery earlier this month. "Being a part of this San Francisco Giants family, hopefully I can do what they traded for me to do."Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that until this year, Sanchez had succeeded at staying on the field. The right-handed hitter played 157 games in 2006, when he captured the NL batting title with a .344 average, 147 games in '07 and 145 games in '08. "One of our goals and priorities this coming season is to get a more consistent lineup out there on a daily basis," Bochy said. "Freddy's history is that he plays pretty much every day. To have him at the top of the order every day is going to do a lot for this lineup." By "top of the order," Bochy meant Sanchez more than likely will bat second, though he also has significant experience hitting leadoff and third. Sanchez hit .284 with one home run and seven RBIs for the Giants, and .293 with seven homers and 41 RBIs in 111 games overall. Had he remained healthy, he likely would have accumulated the 635 plate appearances he needed to guarantee the $8.1 million club option on his contract for 2010. Though Sanchez finished with 489 plate appearances, San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean clearly indicated toward the end of the season that he'd attempt to retain the 31-year-old. "When he was able to be on the field and healthy, he certainly played up to our scouting reports and expectations," said Sabean, who spoke with Sanchez and Bochy on a conference call. Terms of the deal were not announced, but Sanchez's salary package was believed to have exceeded the two-year, $10 million contract Pittsburgh offered him shortly before trading him to San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Sanchez will receive $6 million per year. Having prevented Sanchez from becoming a free agent, Sabean expressed doubt about experiencing the same success with infielder Juan Uribe, who bolstered the offense by hitting .289 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs.
"I get the sense that he's going to test the market," Sabean said.The Giants maintain exclusive negotiating rights with their potential free agents -- a list that includes catcher Bengie Molina, right-hander Brad Penny, left-hander Randy Johnson and outfielder Randy Winn -- for 15 days after the World Series ends. Sabean said the club is "engaged in some level of conversation with each one of them," though he added he wasn't certain if any contract offers will be made.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.