Monday, November 2, 2009

Freddy Sanchez, Felipe Lopez, and the Second Base Market

This past Friday, the Giants re-signed 2B Freddy Sanchez to a 2 year/$12 million dollar contract. The move was important for the Giants for two reasons:

1. They did not have to pick up Sanchez's $8.1 million dollar option in 2010
2. "validates" trading Tim Alderson (admittedly weak point to make)

Even though Sanchez hits for a high average and plays solid defense, I was surprised to see the Giants pony up $6 million annually for Sanchez considering his lack of power, speed, and low OBP.

Does the Freddy Sanchez contract bode well for the other free agent second basemen on the free agent market (namely Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez)?

Not necessarily.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that Felipe Lopez should earn a contract well north of the 2 years/$12 million the Giants gave Freddy Sanchez. Lopez is younger, was statistically better than Sanchez is almost every offense category in 2009, and was an effective defensive second baseman.

However, there are two glaring issues that could prevent a market from developing for Felipe Lopez:

1. Type A Free Agent

-If the Brewers decide to offer Lopez arbitration, are there any teams out there that will surrender two draft picks for him?

2. Where will the money come from?

-If you look at the number of teams out there, who will be searching for a second baseman this offseason, it's hard to see where the big bucks will come from. Here is my preliminary list:
  • Dodgers (if they decide not to start Blake DeWitt/re-sign Orlando Hudson)
  • Mets (if they trade Castillo)
  • Twins (low cost)
  • Tigers (depending on the health of Scott Sizemore)
  • Cubs (if they can afford it?)
It's hard to foresee any of those teams opting to spend $8 million plus on a second baseman this offseason. That's not a good sign for Felipe Lopez early on.

As for Orlando Hudson, even though he was an all-star this past season, the market is not looking favorable for him either. Once again, Hudson is a Type A free agent, which is sure to scare teams away from signing him should the Dodgers offer him arbitration. The best thing that can happen to Orlando Hudson at this point is for the Dodgers to not offer him arbitration (which would increase his chances of a multi year contract) or to simply re-sign with the Dodgers (very unlikely) at a figure slightly higher than Sanchez's, this way he does not have to settle at a bargain basement price like last season.

So in the end, while I think the Giants got a fair deal for Freddy Sanchez, they might find that they actually overpaid for his services (a la Damaso Marte last season) simply because the free agent market is not looking promising for second basemen.


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