Ranking Brian Sabean's Best S.F. Giants Free Agent Finds of All Time

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIDecember 12, 2012

Ranking Brian Sabean's Best S.F. Giants Free Agent Finds of All Time

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    From slugging utility players to diamond-in-the-rough aces, Brian Sabean's career has been filled with a wealth of bargain free-agent signings.

    Sabean is often recognized for his eye for young talent rather than his signing of free agents. His track record there is muddled, to say the least (Barry Zito often comes to mind).

    But he's still made some tremendous deals as GM of the San Francisco Giants, many of which paved the way for the 2010 and 2012 World Series wins.

6. Juan Uribe (1 Year, $3.25 Million)

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    Looking to solidify its bench before the 2009 season, San Francisco went out and nabbed utility man Juan Uribe. After a solid first season, Sabean brought Uribe back for one year at $3.25 million.

    Uribe had the best season of his career in 2010, posting career highs in home runs (24) and RBI (85).

    Originally signed for his defense, Uribe didn't disappoint. He had a 6.8 UZR that season while playing second, third and short for the Giants.

    Uribe was a huge part of that 2010 World Series team, where he transitioned from role player to stud starter.

    Perhaps the greatest part of the deal was that Sabean knew when to cut Uribe loose. He wasn't brought back in 2011, instead signing with the Dodgers for three years and $21 million.

    Uribe has hit a mere six home runs for the Giants' rival over the last two seasons.

5. Bengie Molina (3 Years, $16 Million)

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    Brought in at the end of the 2006 season, Bengie Molina was the lifeblood of San Francisco's offense from 2007-2009.

    The big man led the Giants in RBI in '07 and '08, and was second in '09.

    Molina finished his first three seasons in San Francisco with 55 home runs and 256 RBI. He was later awarded a one-year extension for 2010, but was traded midseason.

    While Molina fizzled out in that last season, it doesn't take away from what he did for those first three. To find such offensive production from a catcher—at such a low cost per year—was an all-time great Sabean move.

4. Jeremy Affeldt (2 Years, $8 Million)

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    A relatively subpar reliever before coming to San Francisco, Jeremy Affeldt didn't seem like an amazing signing at the time.

    But the return has been well worth the investment, as Affeldt has become one of the Giants' best relievers.

    In his first two seasons with San Francisco, Affeldt posted a 2.81 ERA. He was a stud in 2009 with a 1.73 ERA in 74 appearances, even garnering some MVP votes.

    Because of his success, Affeldt was eventually given an extension—and has most recently resigned through 2015. The left-hander has averaged 60 innings and 11 games finished over his four seasons with the club.

3. Aubrey Huff (1 Year, $3 Million)

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    Aubrey Huff has certainly lost his worth over the last two seasons, but that doesn't erase his effectiveness in 2010. And none of that would have been possible without Sabean bringing him in for a mere $3 million.

    Huff was dominant in his first year with the Giants, leading the team in home runs, runs scored, RBI and on-base percentage.

    Not only was Huff great in the regular season, he was a driving force during the World Series run. He posted a .714 OPS and eight RBI in the 2010 playoffs.

    Based on his production, Huff was a great bargain buy by Sabean in the 2010 season.

2. Ryan Vogelsong (Minor League Deal)

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    Originally drafted by Sabean in 1998, Ryan Vogelsong was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001. He wouldn't make his way back to San Francisco until signing a minor league deal before 2011.

    The then-33-year-old had a truly amazing year, going 13-7 for the Giants with a 2.71 ERA. Not the numbers you expect from a guy on a minor league deal.

    Vogelsong was eventually rewarded an extension before the 2012 season. He took a bit of a step back, but still won 14 games in the regular season—not to mention the three wins he had in four postseason starts.

    Hands down the best bargain Sabean has ever found.

1. Jason Schmidt (5 Years, $41 Million)

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    Originally acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jason Schmidt was granted free agency after his half-season spent with the Giants.

    Despite his generally mundane stats, Sabean had the insight to bring Schmidt back at $8.2 million a year.

    Over the next five seasons, the right-hander would be one of the best pitchers in baseball. Schmidt would win 71 games while posting a 3.36 ERA and averaging 201 innings per season.

    Schmidt was also a key part of the Giants' 2002 playoff run, going 2-1 in four postseason starts.

    Once again Sabean knew when to cut ties at the right time. Schmidt was let go at the end of 2006, signing with the Dodgers for three years and $47 million. He would make just six starts for Los Angeles.