Ervin Santana will be one of the top choices on the Giants' wish-list.
The Giants and GM Brian Sabean are actively pursuing a number-three starting pitcher. There are several potential candidates available, including Ricky Nolasco, Bronson Arroyo, Dan Haren, Scott Feldman and Hiroki Kuroda.
The top four candidates that would be excellent fits for the Giants include Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana.
Tanaka had an incredible season this past year in japan, where he went 20-0, with an ERA of 1.24 and WHIP of 0.934. In 181 innings of work, Tanaka allowed only 142 hits and 27 walks, while striking out 155.
Granted, Japanese baseball is not the Major Leagues, but it is a step above the Triple-A level. In light of the recent success of Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish, Koji Uehara and Kuroda, we cannot discount the talent of Tanaka.
The two biggest obstacles to signing Tanaka are the posting system that is currently being renegotiated between Japanese baseball and the US. In addition, several teams are interested in Tanaka, so the price tag will be very high.
Jimenez had good success in the National League with Colorado. Then he was traded to Cleveland in the middle of the 2011 season.
After a miserable 2012 season which saw Jimenez lose a league-high 17 games and finish the year with a 5.40 ERA, he turned things around in 2013.
Jimenez finished the 2013 season with a record of 13-9, a 3.30 ERA and 1.330 WHIP. In 182.2 innings, he allowed 163 hits and 80 walks while striking out 194. The walk total is too high and must be reduced, as that pushes Jimenez' pitch-count up too quickly.
Jimenez earned $5.75 million in 2013 and that could double. Jimenez, who will be 30 years of age when the 2014 season begins, can expect a four-year deal in the range of $40 million.
Garza was acquired by the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline this past season. He split the year between the Cubs and Rangers, throwing a total of 155.1 innings. Garza allowed 150 hits and 42 walks while striking out 136.
Garza had a cumulative ERA of 3.82 and WHIP of 1.236. He fared better in the National League and may be inclined to return. A place like AT&T Park would seem to be an excellent fit for Garza.
Garza, who will be 30 years of age in November, made $10.25 million in 2013. Look for him to command a four-year deal in the range of $60 million.
Perhaps the best candidate for the Giants is Santana. He had an outstanding year with the Kansas City Royals, throwing 211 innings, allowing 190 hits and 51 walks while striking out 161. Santana's 3.24 ERA was excellent, and his WHIP was 1.142.
Santana, who will be 31 years of age when the 2014 season begins, made $13 million this past season. Look for him to command a four-year deal in the $75-80 million range.
The bottom line for the Giants is to compete in the NL West against the Dodgers, who feature Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. To do so, the Giants must strengthen their starting rotation. In addition, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a good young stable of pitchers that will make up their rotation.
If the contract the Giants gave Tim Lincecum precludes them from acquiring Javier Lopez or a top starting pitcher, then it was a bad deal. However, if the Giants are to compete in 2014, the increased financial commitment is necessary.