San Francisco Giants: Breaking Down Their Free Agent Center Field Options

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San Francisco Giants: Breaking Down Their Free Agent Center Field Options
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Angel Pagan was a key to the 2012 title team, but he will be a sought after free agent this winter.

The one area where this year's free agent class is fairly deep is in the outfield. The rest of the crop of free agents is rather weak, particularly in the infield.

That puts the the Giants in a good position because they need one or possibly two new starting outfielders next season.

Hunter Pence is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility, so he's almost certainly going to be the starting right fielder. Gregor Blanco might be best suited as a fourth outfielder, but he just started 89 regular season games plus the entire postseason for a championship team, so perhaps the Giants will be inclined to stick with him as a starter in either left or center field. Top prospect Gary Brown is close to being a finished product as well, so he could form a platoon with the left-handed hitting Blanco in one outfield spot next season.

A platoon of Blanco and Brown wouldn't hit for a high average or slugging percentage, but it would provide plenty of speed, defense and on-base ability. Brown had a mediocre season at Double-A, which has changed the perception of his potential ceiling to possibly being just a reserve outfielder according to Jason Parks, a prospect expert for Baseball Prospectus.

For the sake of examining the center field market only, this article will assume the Giants will use Blanco and a right-handed platoon partner in left field, which is how they finished the season. If they do that, they can shift their focus to center field. They can make a trade for a center fielder as they did last year when they acquired Angel Pagan, or they can dip their toes into the free-agent market.

B.J. Upton, Pagan, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino are the top four free-agent options in center field this winter. Josh Hamilton and Melky Cabrera have both played center field in their careers, but both are likely to be stuck in a corner going forward.

The Giants were linked to Upton and Bourn at the trading deadline two years ago, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has suggested that they'll go after Bourn this winter.

Let's take a deeper look at Upton, Pagan, Bourn and Victorino.

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