Gaby Sanchez, former Pirates infielder, to play in Japan


Former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Gaby Sanchez will leave Major League Baseball for 2015 after agreeing to join the Rakuten Eagles baseball organization in Japan.

The deal is worth a reported $2.5 million plus incentives – and gives Sanchez a job next season after the Pirates opted to not offer him a contract after last year. 2014 was a down-year for the former Marlins first baseman – as he batted just .229/.293/.385 for Pittsburgh, adding seven home runs and 33 runs batted in.

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It’s no surprise that Pittsburgh did not offer him a contract for 2015, especially when one considers that Pedro Alvarez is expected to shift across the diamond this spring, giving Josh Harrison the full-time starting gig at the hot corner. The signing of former Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Corey Hart, who hit 87 home runs for the NL Central rival from 2010 to 2012, only increases the team’s depth moving forward.

Sanchez finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting back in 2010 as a member of the Marlins, batting .273/.341/.448 with 19 home runs and 85 RBI. He followed that up with his first – and only – All-Star selection in 2011, when he again hit 19 home runs and drove in 78 runs.

During his time in the Steel City, Sanchez batted .241/.327/.394, hitting 18 home runs and driving in 82 runs in just over 300 games. Last season was, in many regards, one of the worst offensive campaigns of his big league career.

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