The Sun-Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez (friend of Fish Stripes from back in my Marlin Maniac days) mentioned something recently regarding the future of embattled Miami Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez that I found very interesting.
Sanchez’s service time is at 2 years, 134 days. That’s the precise cutoff for the next Super Two class, according to Creative Artists Agency’s (CAA) preseason estimation. Even if Sanchez has enough service time, players need to accrue at least 86 days the preceding season. Sanchez has totaled 72 this year.
If Sanchez somehow makes it back up and does qualify for arbitration, he wouldn’t be due a huge raise. Yet that money would be guaranteed whether Sanchez was in the majors or minors, so the Marlins probably would look to trade him or just not tender him a contract…
Sanchez just made the cutoff point for Super Two status, so all he needs to do is be on the major league roster for 14 more days to qualify. Yes, initially this seems unlikely given the fact that the Marlins have Carlos Lee currently at first base for the rest of the season. However, if the Fish are in contention by the time rosters expand in September, it would not be surprising to see Sanchez be brought up to the big leagues, especially if he continues to do a decent job in Triple-A like he did in his first stint in New Orleans (.310/.494/.483, .433 wOBA).If Sanchez accrues the playing time needed to qualify for Super Two status despite missing most of this season and does get Super Two status, I think Rodriguez is right that the Marlins would be willing to just non-tender him rather than pay him arbitration, especially if he does not destroy Pacific Coast League pitching in his minor league stint. Even after this poor season by Sanchez, you have to figure he will at least get a raise into the $0.8 to $1 million dollar range based just on being a former All-Star with two decent seasons under his belt.
Consider the case of Jeremy Hermida, who was not completely comparable but still had a similar case heading into his first arbitration season. Hermida was a career .267/.342/.436 hitter in left field by the time he reached arbitration in 2009. Hermida's line was two percent better than the league average by that time. Sanchez's line of .260/.334/.422 is four percent better than the league average. Hermida had accumulated about the same number of total PA that Sanchez had by then (1438 for Hermida versus 1531 for Sanchez). Hermida had struggled in 2008 following a killer 2007 season, while Sanchez failed to play much in the majors due to more significant struggles following an All-Star campaign (deserving or otherwise).
Sure, Hermida was a corner outfielder and Sanchez is a first baseman, so the numbers do differ there. And it cannot be discounted that Sanchez's final pre-arbitration season, if it indeed turns out that way, would have been far more atrocious than Hermida's. Nevertheless, Hermida ended up earning $2.25 million in his first arbitration season. There is no chance Sanchez will get that much, but if similar numbers and somewhat comparable progressions could net Hermida that much money, it is not unfeasible to see Sanchez get $1 million.
If he is a threat to earn anything like that, I would not be surprised if the Marlins tried to find a suitor to take on Sanchez or, failing that, simply non-tendered him. It would bring about an abrupt end to Sanchez's time as a Marlin after having a decent start. Of course, the Marlins likely realize this and, if they can help it, they will keep him in the minors to avoid the risk of Super Two status. But even then, there is no guarantee that the team will not look to unload or otherwise rid themselves of Sanchez after a season like this, so Rodriguez's sentiment of a "nebulous" future with the organization rings true.