San Francisco Giants: Potential Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Targets

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San Francisco Giants: Potential Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Targets

Hunter Pence is locked in.  Tim Lincecum will wear orange and black for the next two seasons.  

The San Francisco Giants have successfully inked one corner outfielder and have retained another starting pitcher.  However, there are still holes to fill in both areas: The team still needs a left fielder and another starting pitcher in order to compete for a playoff spot in 2014. 

General manager Brian Sabean is known for his under-the-radar signings.  It's rare for the thrifty and fiercely loyal GM to go shopping for glitzy free agents in the offseason.  Despite the Giants being one of the richest franchises in baseball, Sabean seldom throws his hat into the ring for these big-name signings.   

And why not maintain this strategy?  Sabean experienced more success signing second baseman Marco Scutaro in 2012 than he did penning pitcher Barry Zito to an exorbitant contract in 2007.

So which under-the-radar players could provide the necessary impact in areas of need for the San Francisco Giants in 2014? 

One such player is catcher Brian McCann.  Jon Heyman via CBSSports.com:

He has a career .823 OPS, so if the Giants become serious, they could have by some measures the two best hitting catchers in baseball. To this point, though, it remains curious where enough playing time could possibly come from since they have Brandon Belt at first base.

However, the Giants could move Belt to left field, helping to fill that hole in the corner outfield position, and give Buster Posey increased playing time at first base.  Both are moves that, if the Giants are willing to make them, could give them a left-handed power hitter with McCann. 

On the pitching front, the Giants could still use another starting pitcher to bolster their rotation.  One of those options: Chad Gaudin, who stepped in for the Giants in 2013 and served his role well. 

Such a move would be straight out of the Sabean playbook.  Sabean has a pattern of loyalty to former contributors, such as Lincecum, Scutaro and center fielder Angel Pagan.  Gaudin deserves consideration: In 2013, he posted a 3.06 ERA and proved flexible, pitching both out of the bullpen and as a starter over the course of the season. 

Re-signing Gaudin would be anything but flashy.  In fact, it would be the definition of under the radar. 

There are more high-profile options and moves Sabean could and possibly should make.  Lincecum's two-year contract with the Giants made the price skyrocket on pitchers such as Ubaldo Jimenez of the Cleveland Indians.  

Jordan Bastian via MLB.com:

Once Jimenez voids his option for 2014 (valued at $8 million), as expected, the Indians will almost certainly give him a one-year, $14.1-million qualifying offer for next season. Cleveland has interest in bringing the starter back on that kind of contract, but Lincecum's deal, which includes $17 million in 2014, makes it clear that a better multi-year pact will likely be offered elsewhere.

Because the Giants signed Lincecum to such a generous contract, they have (unintentionally or not) lured pitchers such as Jimenez closer to the free-agent market. 

Last year, Sabean rested on his laurels and made a number of under-the-radar moves that simply didn't pan out.  The Giants need to make a splash this offseason, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to make headlines with big moves for big-name players.  Sabean needs to stay savvy and continue on the path that brought the organization two World Series titles in three years.  

 

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