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Jonathan Sanchez's future with the Giants

Ball ∞.
Ball ∞.

Probably a stupid topic considering we don't even know his present, but I'm pretty sure you'll never see this again:


  • Young pitcher comes up through a team's minor-league system
  • Young pitcher throws the first no-hitter for the team in over 30 years
  • Young pitcher turns into an above-average pitcher
  • Young pitcher helps his team win a championship (or, at least, a division)
  • Young pitcher approaches free agency
  • No one ever once -- once! -- talks about locking him up for the long-term.


Oh, maybe someone muttered something somewhere, but just based on a cursory search, no one really cares that Jonathan Sanchez will be a free agent after 2012.

Maybe "cares" isn't the right word. I care. I'm just confused. I have no idea what to think about Jonathan Sanchez right now. He's about to lose his rotation spot to Barry Zito, and I'm not offended. I'm tired of watching the guy, even if his ERA is just a tick over the league average. He's still being bandied about on talk radio as trade bait, as if teams are just going to trip over themselves to acquire a pitcher who regularly leads the NL in walks and is entering his final arbitration year with Scott Boras as his agent.

And there's no way the Giants would even think about an extension. Noooooo way. They don't even know if he'll finish the year in the rotation, and it's not like Scott Boras is going to give them the ol' hometown discount.

Here are the three possible scenarios, I'd guess:

Sanchez is traded in the offseason
The Giants, now flush with Voglesongian goodness and still paying Zito scores of millions, will move Sanchez for a Russ Ortiz-like package -- they'll get nothing of exceptional value, just to make sure they aren't paying Sanchez.

Sanchez is kept around for 2012, and he walks
Well, of course he walks. He walks pitchers, hitters, first-base coaches, mascots -- dude has a problem. But what I mean is that he'll just leave as a free agent. The eventual contract he'll get is fascinating. If you don't respect Scott Boras's talents now, just wait until a team commits to Jonathan Sanchez for three or four years.

Sanchez is kept around for 2012, pitches well, and he stays with the Giants
There's no way he stays with the Giants if he's still doing this is he/isn't he-crap next year. But if he has a good year -- say a repeat of 2010 -- he could stick around.

The first scenario is by far the most likely. I'd like to put $1,000 McCovey down right now that Sanchez isn't on the team at the start of next season, and it won't be because he's going to get traded for Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Ike Davis, and David Wright.

If he's the same pitcher as last year -- a 4.5 BB/9 guy rather than a 6.0 BB/9 guy -- he's still a valuable pitcher. One of the better mid-level starters in the league, actually, and there's always the hope that his mechanics will suddenly click like those of Sandy Koufax or Randy Johnson, and he'll cut his walk rate in half and dominate. Just keeeeep waiting. Aaaaany day now. But even if he returns to the form of last season, how long could you possibly feel confident signing Sanchez for? One year? Two? Three?

Yeah. Having a mercurial talent like Sanchez on a year-to-year, non-guaranteed basis has been a luxury. In fewer than 16 months, the Giants will have to decide how long they'll commit to him. You know, the guy who was just placed on the DL with a phantom injury because he's walking 459 batters in every game although his ERA is low because he doesn't allow hits because he misses bats because he has great stuff even though he's maddening to watch and he could be great one day. That guy. Such an easy nut to crack. Such an easy decision.

Comment starter: What do you think will eventually happen with the Giants and Sanchez. An acrimonious marriage? A sullen breakup?