LOS ANGELES -- The Giants erased a potential concern Friday by announcing an agreement with second baseman Freddy Sanchez on a one-year, $6 million contract extension through the 2012 season. The upcoming offseason promises to be a busy one for the Giants, who'll face contractual decisions regarding a substantial portion of the team. Outfielder Cody Ross will be the most significant of six players poised for free agency. Right-hander Tim Lincecum, left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and third baseman Pablo Sandoval will be among nine Giants eligible for salary arbitration. Reaching an accord with Freddy Sanchez crossed one item off their lengthy list. Giants general manager Brian Sabean said that "mutual interest" prompted the deal. Sanchez was one of the club's most essential performers late in the 2010 season, batting .371 in his final 31 games and providing sparkling defense, particularly in Game 4 of the World Series against Texas.
"We know what he brings to the table," Sabean said of Sanchez, who hit .292 last year. The organization and the environment have grown on Sanchez, who was acquired from Pittsburgh shortly before the 2009 Trade Deadline. "This is my home now. I feel like this is my family," he said. "... When you can play at a beautiful ballpark full of fans who care so much about the team, it's just so much better." Retaining Sanchez comes with some risk for the Giants, given his injury history. He twice underwent arthroscopic left shoulder surgery in a period of less than a year, and he also has endured right shoulder and knee problems since joining the Giants. But Sabean noted that team doctors vouched for Sanchez's overall health, most recently last Sunday when the 33-year-old was re-examined as a procedural step before sealing the agreement. Also, the Giants lack a promising Minor Leaguer who's ready to assume second base quickly. Charlie Culberson, the organization's top prospect at that spot, will begin this season at Double-A and had not played above high-Class A before this season.
"Quite frankly, from a developmental standpoint, somebody like Culberson needs time," Sabean said.Sanchez, who won the 2006 National League batting title with a .344 average while playing for Pittsburgh, entered this year hitting .298 lifetime in six full seasons and parts of three others.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.