Kansas City, Mo The Royals traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez on Monday, upgrading their rotation and clearing the way for hotshot prospect Lorenzo Cain to get a chance in center field.
It was the second significant trade involving a starter this offseason. The Braves shipped Derek Lowe to the Indians last week.
The Royals also received Double-A pitcher Ryan Verdugo in the deal.
With a young lineup and plenty of talent still in the minor league system, Royals general manager Dayton Moore was willing to part with Cabrera to fill his biggest need: starting pitching.
The subject of trade speculation for several years, Sanchez threw a no-hitter on July 10, 2009, against San Diego. Only an error by third baseman Juan Uribe kept it from being a perfect game.
“He’s a very dynamic left-handed pitcher,” Moore said. “His hit rates are very low, his strikeout rates are very high, his walks aren’t something we’re overly excited about, but at the same time he’s very young. He’s somebody our scouts feel is a breakout candidate moving forward into 2012.”
Despite the emergence of former No. 1 draft pick Luke Hochevar and rookie Danny Duffy, the Royals’ starters still logged the third-fewest innings of any staff in the AL. Their combined 4.45 ERA was also the third-worst in the AL.
Sanchez struggled most of this season, partly due to a case of biceps tendinitis, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA before missing the final month due to a left ankle sprain.