By Jason Shetler
This week is when all Major League clubs have to tender or non-tender a contract with their arbitration eligible players. The Pirates currently have 12 players who are eligible, and perhaps the most interesting player will be first baseman Gaby Sanchez. For the past two seasons, Sanchez has been in a first base platoon for the Pirates as a right-handed option. In 2013, he completely owned left-handed pitching, posting a .987 OPS against them. This past season, his numbers fell off pretty substantially against lefties, as he posted a .746 OPS. However, the MLB average for right-handed batters against LHP this year was .731, so even in a down season, Sanchez was still an above average performer vs left-handers.
Last year, I did a post on how Sanchez was a “Moneyball” player for the Pirates, because his ability to hit left-handed pitching consistently has been undervalued by most. I also mentioned that the acquisition of Sanchez a couple years back is one of Neal Huntington’s better trades that he doesn’t get enough credit for. Pedro Alvarez will be making the full time transition to first base in 2015, so having a more experienced and better defensive first baseman around in Sanchez would make sense. If Sanchez is given a contract for next season by the Pirates, he’ll probably get around $3 million, which would still be a bargain for someone who continues to be above league average vs left-handed pitching.