San Francisco Giants: Exploring Their Options This Offseason
The San Francisco Giants, for the first time in a long time, are going to make splashy moves in the offseason.
San Francisco already dished out lofty amounts of money to retain Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, but there is still more to do. Left field needs to be upgraded, the pitching staff needs to be filled out and the bench needs improvement.
What should the Giants do this offseason?
Signing Brian McCann
Hold on. Don't the Giants already have a more-than-competent catcher?
Yes, star Buster Posey is still with the Giants. However, he isn't going to stay at catcher for his whole career. He suffered a brutal injury in 2011, and if he keeps playing the position, the physical abuse will negatively affect the 2012 NL MVP.
The Giants could move him permanently to first base. If they do that, they would move Brandon Belt to left field. That would create a stacked offense, one with power, speed and on-base ability scattered throughout the lineup.
Sure, it might tick off Posey if the Giants were to do this, which could be slightly detrimental to the team chemistry. However, a move is inevitable, and a humble, team player like Posey would likely accept the move without much of a problem.
It wouldn't affect the clubhouse, and it wouldn't have a huge effect on the team's defense. Posey has a spectacular .992 fielding percentage at first, having ample experience from 77 major league starts at the position.
Belt has played 35 MLB games in left, and while he has poor defensive numbers, he is trusted there and can blossom into a serviceable defensive outfielder.
There wouldn't be many problems on that front, but there would be a bigger problem. According to ESPN, the Atlanta Braves placed a qualifying offer on Brian McCann, so for the Giants to sign him, they would have to give up their first-round draft pick. McCann would cost the Giants a decent amount of cash, too.
However, if the Giants are keen on improving the offense without breaking the bank, McCann, who has a career .823 OPS and can provide much-needed pop to the lineup, would be a great option.
Signing a Veteran Pitcher
The San Francisco Giants are certainly not done signing starting pitchers.
They secured Tim Lincecum for two more years earlier in the offseason, and they already have Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner penciled in at the top of the rotation. However, they have two vacancies in the fourth and fifth spots, and those will be occupied in free agency.
Luckily for the Giants, there are ample pitchers who can fulfill their needs.
San Francisco needs an experienced veteran willing to take a short-term deal, one who can fill in until Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar or another prospect becomes major league ready.
Star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka doesn't fit in that regard, but the Giants still want him. Unfortunately, they would have to pay his salary plus a posting fee, which will cost too much.
On the other hand, Tim Hudson and Dan Haren could be fits. Haren gave up a good amount of home runs at Nationals Park, but he wouldn't give up as many at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. He had a strong second half with the Washington Nationals, posting nine quality starts in his last 12 outings.
If the Giants want to make another big splash, signing Haren on the cheap might be a smart idea. The same goes with Hudson, who suffered a gruesome ankle injury in July. He is older and might not be completely healthy, but if the Giants can't sign Haren, Hudson would be a welcomed addition.
After all, he did have a 3.97 ERA in 2013.
On the other hand, if they want to go all out and spend, they could sign Bronson Arroyo. His solid numbers will lead to him luring in a lot of money, and that could be bad for the Giants.
However, if the Giants were to sign a cheaper alternative in left field, they could set some cash aside for Arroyo. He had a 3.79 ERA, and he did that while giving up 32 home runs. At AT&T Park, he can decrease that number, and with his amazing stuff, he could anchor the back of the rotation.
No matter what, the Giants need to sign a pitcher. We don't know if they will go after Arroyo, Matt Garza or another big-name pitcher, but it's obvious the Giants will sign a pitcher.
Signing a Left Fielder
If the Giants don't shuffle their defense around by signing McCann, they could end up signing a left fielder.
Rajai Davis, who was with the Giants in parts of 2007 and 2008, could be that left fielder. He might not be a flashy option, but the Giants can't sign one of those. Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are the most lucrative options on the outfield market, but they are far out of San Francisco's price range.
So, the Giants will have to settle.
They could settle for Milwaukee's Corey Hart. He has been linked to the Giants in the past, but he might not be good enough on defense. Hart is also injury prone and 32 years old, so he might not be a great fit. Davis, on the other hand, plays great defense and is young.
With his .312 OBP and six home runs, he isn't going to cost much. Consequently, the Giants could set money aside to sign a reliever and a quality pitcher. After all, the Giants won a World Series with Gregor Blanco in left field, and Davis is an upgrade over Blanco.
Plus, he stole 45 bases and was only caught six times in 2013. He can spark the bottom of the order, which is something Blanco and Andres Torres failed to do last season.
The Giants could also go after Nate McLouth, who is arguably better but would cost a bit more. He hit .258 with a .329 OBP and 12 home runs, stealing 30 bases in the process. He is very similar to Davis, but has more power.
Unfortunately for the Giants, McLouth would cost more and will likely re-sign with Baltimore. If they want a cheap option, they should go with Davis, and if they want an affordable, powerful option (with defensive deficiencies), they should pay Hart.
The Giants are virtually guaranteed to sign a left fielder or move a current player into left field. Blanco isn't a competent starter, and the Giants have the money to improve the position.
And this time, they will actually address the problem.
Signing a Left-Handed Reliever
The Giants signed Lincecum and Pence before the open free-agency period, but they failed to re-up Javier Lopez's contract.
Lopez posted a tremendous 1.83 ERA in 2013, and additionally, he was remarkable in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He has been reliable in all of his four years in San Francisco and has played a key role in San Francisco's two championships.
However, Lopez will command a decent amount of money. Even though he is overlooked and won't fiercely demand a hefty contract, the stats are there for him to demand a decent, short-term deal. According to MLB.com, he wants to stay with the Giants.
But if for some reason the Giants don't re-sign Lopez, they could go after J.P. Howell. They need to sign a left-handed reliever to pitch in critical matchups, and Howell was able to do that with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His 2.05 ERA in 2013 was incredible, and while he hasn't been as consistent and reliable as Lopez, he would be a nice alternative. However, the Giants likely won't need an alternative.
The Giants know what Lopez has done and will likely pay up. Signing him is a top priority, and it shouldn't be long until the Giants re-sign him.
Trading Pablo Sandoval
Just like Lopez, Pablo Sandoval has done great things for the San Francisco Giants.
The 2012 World Series MVP is loved by all fans in San Francisco. He has played well on the field and has a very outgoing personality, fitting in perfectly in the clubhouse.
However, Sandoval has always battled with staying in shape, and the Giants are getting tired of it. Plus, despite the public perception, he hasn't even been a star on the field. The overrated third baseman had a poor year in 2013 and hasn't had an OBP better than .357 since 2009.
Oh, and he had a horrendous .940 fielding percentage.
In addition, he registered an average .758 OPS in 2013. He cranked just 14 home runs, and he has just 62 home runs in his last four seasons. Part of the reason why his totals haven't been great is because of injury, which is another monumental concern.
Sandoval will likely bolt from the Bay Area after the 2014 season when he becomes a free agent. Instead of letting him go and getting nothing in return, the Giants should trade him for a big bat or arm.
If the Giants could trade Sandoval for a left fielder, it would benefit the Giants long term while allowing them to maintain decent production at third base. San Francisco could use Joaquin Arias at third or sign a replacement on the cheap.
It might cost them a bit at third base, but it would benefit them in left field, in the farm or at another position. Sandoval's trade value is sky high, even though he had a poor 2013 season.
The move would be unpopular in San Francisco, but it would be for the best interest of the organization. It's not likely to happen, but if the Giants are serious about winning another championship, this might be the best way to do so.