In coffee shop chains across America, Christmas music is playing. Convenience stores have restocked shelves full of stale Halloween candy with jingle bells and holly.
Peppermint hot chocolate is available for purchase.
Yes, it's nearly the holidays. For the San Francisco Giants, the following free-agent players should be on their (non-denominational) holiday list this offseason.
The Giants need outfielders—and there are some superstars available. What about Carlos Beltran of the World Series runner-up St. Louis Cardinals? He is a former Giant and has experience playing at AT&T Park. A seasoned veteran with value in his bat and in the field, Beltran would seriously upgrade the Giants outfield.
The Cardinals did make Beltran a qualifying offer, but there are a lot of teams interested in the veteran slugger. His consistency and experience are a deadly combination for the Giants.
Mike Matheny told us on Carlos Beltran, "There's already been an offer that's been put out there. Going to be a tough call for Carlos" #SXM— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 5, 2013
Moving to the east coast, several big-name free agents are available as well. Just look to the AL East—several options are seriously tempting for San Francisco.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the World Series champion Red Sox posted an impressive .298/.355/.426 line in 2013. Although he has an injury-riddled history, a healthy Ellsbury is one of the best outfielders in all of MLB. He's fast, he's athletic and he's a solid fielder. Additionally, Ellsbury only struck out 92 times last season and provides speed at the top of the lineup.
Ellsbury also received a qualifying offer from his old team:
As expected. Red Sox say they will make qualifying offers today to Napoli, Drew and Ellsbury but not to Saltalamacchia. #RedSoxTalk— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) November 4, 2013
Still, of the three, Granderson is the most likely to accept a qualifying offer from his former team. Anthony McCarron writes in the New York Daily News:
Granderson was one of three Yankee free agents to get a qualifying offer from the Yanks. He has until Monday to decide on it. One reason he might take it is because he played only 61 games this season because of two injuries and if he had a big season, it would perhaps rebuild his value for a bigger contract next winter.
The Giants have other areas of need and other dream possibilities. After re-signing right-hander Tim Lincecum, there is still a glaring hole in the starting rotation needing to be filled, especially if pitcher Ryan Vogelsong finds a better offer now that he's set to hit free agency.
On the top of the Giants' wish list should be Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. His career in Japan is impressive: a 1.27 ERA coupled with a 24-0 record with the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season is certainly worthy of note.
Other free-agent pitchers available include Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana. None of them are necessarily game-changers for the Giants, although any one of them could provide a solid mid-rotation presence.
Tanaka, however, could be the lightning rod that San Francisco's current starting rotation needs.
The Giants are making their list and checking it twice as activity this offseason begins to hit a fever pitch. Perhaps one of these dream free agents could become a reality.