Trades and bargain free agents built around a homegrown core have been the main tools in propelling the San Francisco Giants to two World Series titles in the last three seasons.
Rather than spending big dollars on marquee free agents, the Giants have looked for bargains. Prior to the 2010 season, they signed Aubrey Huff to a cheap one-year deal while also bringing back Juan Uribe and Andres Torres, two minor league free agents that the team signed on the cheap prior to 2009.
During that season general manager Brian Sabean bolstered the team by signing Pat Burrell after he was released by Tampa Bay, claiming Cody Ross off waivers from Florida, and then trading for Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Jose Guillen.
Last season Sabean traded for Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro, claimed Jose Mijares off waivers from Kansas City, and signed minor league free agents Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias. The team also received tremendous production from former minor league free agent Ryan Vogelsong.
If the past is any guide, Sabean will likely bolster the team through trades again this winter. In trading for Pagan, Cabrera, Pence and Scutaro, Sabean acquired players that were nearing free agency.
Pagan and Cabrera were arbitration eligible for the final time last season before entering free agency this winter, and Scutaro was in the final year of his contract as well. Pence was acquired with just one and a half seasons of team control left before hitting the market after 2013.
Thus, if the Giants are going to explore the trade market again this winter, they will likely target players climbing the arbitration ladder and approaching free agency.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Martin Prado and Jed Lowrie are five players that are fast approaching free agency and would be ideal fits on the 2013 Giants. Let's explore each players' skill set, and the possibility of them getting dealt this winter.