There was a time when Gaby Sanchez was considered an offensive threat at the plate for opposing pitchers. 

That time was five seasons ago, as the young first baseman was coming off his second straight 19-home run season.  Between 2010-2011 as a member of the then-known-as Florida Marlins, Sanchez drove in 163 runs in 310 games.  

In the three seasons since, Sanchez’s power numbers and batting average have dropped off drastically.  

In 2014, Sanchez batted .229 with just seven home runs in 123 games.  Of course, he has not had nearly the number of at-bats he was given years ago, but that is due to the fact that he struggles mightily against right-handed pitchers.  

When the Pirates traded first baseman Ike Davis to the Oakland Athletics a little over a week ago, it still left three first basemen on the Pirates’ depth chart.  

It is possible that the Pirates could keep Sanchez on the roster and go into the season with two backup first basemen, but there really is no need to, especially considering the likelihood of Pedro Alvarez becoming the everyday first baseman for the Pirates.  

Furthermore, the Pirates have a young and talented prospect named Andrew Lambo, who has seen limited playing time throughout his first two seasons in the majors.

According to a report from Baseball America, Lambo was listed as the best power hitter in the Pirates farm system heading into the 2014 regular season.  Lambo proved that he deserved that ranking by blasting 44 home runs over the last two seasons in the minors.

Realistically, though, when will Lambo be given a chance to play every day if there are two first baseman in front of him on the Pirates depth chart?  Unless either Alvarez or Sanchez is traded during the offseason, Lambo would have to have a tremendous spring training to win the starting job.  

Now, the Pirates could also offer Alvarez in a trade instead of Sanchez, and that would have its pros and cons.  

On the bright side, the Pirates could probably acquire some talented prospects for Alvarez, as he has shown that he has tremendous power at the plate when healthy.  In 2013 for the Pirates, Alvarez hit 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs in 152 games.  

Alvarez missed 40 games in 2014 due to injuries, but he still was able to total 18 home runs and collect 56 RBI.  

To put it nicely, Alvarez has been shaky in the field, committing 52 errors at third base over the last two seasons.  To me, Alvarez would best be suited on an American League team, where he could see a considerable amount of playing time as a designated hitter.  So, perhaps an A.L. team would be willing to trade for him.  

The major con of trading away a guy like Alvarez is that it would leave a power void in the heart of Pittsburgh’s lineup, which they probably cannot afford unless they go out and acquire solid starting pitchers.

Second baseman Neil Walker and center fielder Andrew McCutchen were the only two players to hit at least 20 home runs for the Pirates in 2014, so trading away Alvarez would negatively impact the power numbers for the Pirates in 2015.  

Playing the role of general manager Neal Huntington, here is my verdict: listen to any offers on both players, but try to get a decent offer for Sanchez, as trading away Alvarez at this point would not make much sense.  

Then, in spring training, allow Alvarez to become accustomed to playing first base.  In the worst-case scenario, Lambo and Alvarez could split time until one of them takes off and gets hot.  

Although his batting average is nothing to be excited about, it is hard to come across the level of power Alvarez possesses at the plate, and although the Pirates could get more in return for Alvarez, the lineup they currently have is set up to win now.  

Without Alvarez’s power in the middle of the lineup, however, the Pirates should expect to win less games than they did last season.  


*Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference

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