I was going to analyze the Melky Cabrera/Jonathan Sanchez + Ryan Verdugo trade, but to be honest I feel like that’s been done by a lot of people and it’s all pretty much been said. Quick take: Cabrera doesn’t seem to be a great fit in San Francisco because his defensive liabilities could really be exposed in a ballpark with that large of an OF and a primarily flyball oriented staff. However, Cabrera is entering his prime and is a decent bet to be a 2-3 win player in 2012. Losing Sanchez is a bit of a risk-while he’ll never be Randy Johnson, trusting a repeat performance from Ryan Vogelsong and some combination of Barry Zito and Eric Surkamp is a pretty big risk. On the other hand there is the possibility that Sanchez could turn into Oliver Perez or Scott Kazmir this year. All in all, I don’t like this deal, but I don’t hate it.
Now onto the topic of this post. The Giants currently have six members of their bullpen signed and with their budget constraints they likely won’t be able to bring back veteran reliever Guillermo Mota. So right now the battle for the 7th member of the bullpen would likely be between Steve Edlefsen (who struggled mightily in his big league debut), Waldis Joaquin (DFA candidate) or an outside candidate. Enter Andrew Brackman who was released by the Yankees per his draft contract.
Brackman has had an interesting career. He went to High School and College with the aforementioned Eric Surkamp and was drafted 30th overall in the 2010 draft and got a very lucrative draft deal. In 2009, in his first year back from Tommy John Surgery, he struggled with his control as he walked 6.4 batters per nine in Low A as a 23 year old. He had a very good year in 2010 splitting time between A+ and AA ball as he walked nearly 4 batters less per 9. Last year though, his strong campaign fell apart as he had a K:BB of 7:7 as well as posting his highest career HR rate. Also, for the first time in his career he made more relief appearances than starts.
While those numbers were not good, Brackman has the size and power arm the Giants love. And given that he’s spent time starting and relieving in the minors the Giants could use him in low leverage situations to eat some innings and get him acclimated to the majors and if he can control his walk rate, the Giants could have a sleeper relief prospect. As far as a potential contract, I think the best comparison would be 2006 1st round pick Andrew Miller, who also spent time battling control problems and threw 65 innings in the majors with the Red Sox last year. Miller received a split contract worth $1.3 million in the majors and a team option for $3 million. Now the main difference between Brackman and Miller is their service time, as Miller had more time in the majors than Brackman, though that likely means that Brackman would receive less guaranteed money, but would have a mutual option because if he was good the team could simply decline their option and sign him to a pre-arb contract.
Given Brackman’s draft status, strong arm, and relative youth I think he is definitely worth the Giants taking a flier on and using as a low leverage reliever.