Melk Man has earned a payday

When news first broke in November that the Giants had acquired Melky Cabrera for erratic starter Jonathan Sanchez, I almost jumped through the ceiling.

He was exactly the type of player the Giants needed: A consistent hitter who could play multiple positions. Plus, his fun-loving attitude is something the Giants clubhouse could use.

I know a lot of Giants fans were sad to see Sanchez go, but he was a fifth starter at best. For Sanchez, they got a guy coming of a 200-hit season. Brian Sabean had just walked into Kansas City GM Dayton Moore’s office, blindfolded him, robbed him of one of his best players and left a $5 bill on his desk.

Cabrera has been everything the Giants could have asked for. He’s leading the team in hits, he’s playing great defense and his consistent play is one less thing manager Bruce Bochy has to worry about. He’s the only player on the roster to start in every game this season.

Through 35 games, Melky is hitting .338 and is sporting a .386 on base percentage. He has 49 hits, 21 runs and four triples, halfway to his career-high of eight in 2007.

That incredible start has started whispers of locking up the 27-year-old to a long-term deal. Cabrera is making $6 million this year, so he’s due for a raise in the offseason.

The Chronicle’s Gwen Knapp caught up with Sabean and asked him if he’d wait until November to discuss a new contract with Cabrera.

“Not necessarily. I think it’s different with a transitional player, depending on who the agent is or the appetite of the player. So I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute.”

It sounds like Sabean and Giants are definitely open to the idea of negotiating during the season. Whether or not Cabrera is open to the idea is a completely different thing. He’d be wise to test the open market when surely just about every team would be interested in him.

But if the two sides do sit down to discuss a deal during the season, it needs to be a fairly quick conversation. The Giants can’t afford to let this turn into a distraction. A lot of players refuse to negotiate new deals during the season for fear that they will be bombarded with questions from the media.

But the Giants should be able to afford Cabrera. A young core of Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey would give the Giants three great hitters to build around.