SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants on Wednesday non-tendered catcher Hector Sanchez and right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, sending both to the free agent market.
The Sanchez move was somewhat expected after a rough season for a young player who hasn’t developed as hoped, and the Petit move became telegraphed as the Giants made it clear that financial flexibility is a priority right now.
Petit, a valuable swingman, had a 3.66 ERA in four seasons with the Giants, resurrecting his career. He was primarily a long reliever but made 21 starts, including a near-perfect game in September of 2013. Petit’s most memorable performance as a Giant, however, came out of the bullpen. He threw six one-hit innings of relief in extra innings of Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, repeatedly keeping the Washington Nationals off the board until Brandon Belt’s game-winning homer.
Petit had always hoped to be a starter, but he made 41 out of 42 appearances out of the bullpen this season, posting a 3.67 ERA. It was an up-and-down season for Petit, who at times wasn’t as reliable as in the past, but he had a strong second half. He was projected to get about $2.4 million in arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors, and while Petit could return later in the offseason, the Giants should be able to fill that role at a lesser price. Chris Heston could be a good long man if the Giants add two starters this offseason, and George Kontos has handled the role in the past. The Giants also have several minor leaguers — led by Cody Hall, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach and Chris Stratton — who could break in doing Petit’s old job.
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Sanchez at one time looked like the long-term backup to Buster Posey. He got to the majors at 21 and had a rapport with several Giants starters, including Tim Lincecum. A switch-hitter, Sanchez showed tremendous promise when he hit .280 as a 22-year-old, but he hit .248, .196 and .179 the next three seasons. Sanchez’s defense got noticeably better over the years, but he fell behind Andrew Susac on the depth chart and likely would have fallen behind Trevor Brown next spring, too. Sanchez, who has dealt with serious concussion issues and a slew of other injuries, was expected to get around $900,000 in arbitration but the Giants likely have enough depth with Posey, Susac and Brown. They traditionally bring a veteran backup option to camp, too.
The Giants had four arbitration-eligible players remaining before Wednesday’s deadline to tender contracts. Belt is a candidate for a long-term extension and Kontos is expected to get around $1 million in his first year of arbitration.
The Giants now have 38 players on the 40-man roster.