With the trade deadline rapidly approaching this afternoon, the Pirates sent Gorkys Hernandez and their competitive balance draft pick to the Marlins for Gaby Sanchez and right-handed reliever Kyle Kaminista. Sanchez struggled quite a bit in 50 games with the Marlins this year (.202/.250/.306) and that resulted in a demotion to Triple-A, but prior to this year he posted back-to-back 19 homer seasons in 2010 and 2011.
It seems to me that this is a move that’s being made more with an eye towards depth, and maybe even future depth. With Travis Snider taking over in right field, Garrett Jones moves to first base. The assumption last night was that he would platoon there with Casey McGehee, but now the Pirates have another option in Sanchez. Over his career, he’s got a .298/.390/.488 line against lefties and his OPS against righties is only .715. That makes him a useful player, if only a marginally useful one. Of course, the same thing is true of Gorkys Hernandez to an even smaller degree; his defense is fantastic but he really can’t hit at all and there’s clearly no role for him on a team that already has Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.
I’m not really sure what to make of Kaminska right now, to be honest. His minor league numbers aren’t great, but he’s put up some nice K/BB ratios after he was moved to the bullpen in 2011. He kind of seems like filler, but it’s definitely possible that the Pirates think there’s more to him than meets the eye. I just don’t know enough about him right now to say more for certain.
Of course, the Pirates could just leave Sanchez in Triple-A and use him as depth in case McGehee falters more or someone gets hurt. That’s where both he and Hernandez were before this trade, after all. As Tim Williams points out, leaving Sanchez in Triple-A for another month gives the Pirates an extra year of control. Basically, this is a swap of depth the Pirates didn’t need (Gorkys) for depth that’s more useful for them (Gaby). I’m OK with that.
If anything, I’m a little iffy on giving up the competitive balance pick in this kind of deal (though I’ll admit that a straight up Sanchez for Hernandez swap would be a pretty clear win for the Pirates, I think). The 33rd pick wouldn’t necessarily be a great prospect, but it would’ve given the Pirates some real money to play around with when coupled with the two first round picks they already have. Maybe the Pirates figure they don’t need that much extra slot money, but in my head I thought that it might be worth a little bit more than to top off a Gaby Sanchez deal. I don’t know that for certain, of course, because no one’s ever been able to trade draft picks of any sort before.