The Giants are looking to enjoy an active offseason. With several key holes in the lineup to fill, primarily in the outfield and starting rotation, there are a plethora of options for GM Brian Sabean and the Giants to consider.
But which free agents or trade targets are the Giants serious about pursuing? And, going further, which should they continue to pursue and which would be wiser left untouched?
First, the pitchers:
One of the Giants’ chief pitching targets is Tim Hudson. Two potential obstacles to signing him appear to be non-issues now. First, sources said, the Alabama native and Georgia resident is willing to move across the country again to pitch for the right team. Second, the Braves apparently offered him a contract with a significantly smaller salary than he earned last year, one he is not inclined to accept.
Giants fans may remember Hudson's mastery against in the 2010 NLDS. Hudson pitched the third game of the series against the Giants, going seven innings and allowing only one unearned run on four hits.
The pros? Hudson has a proven track record, with a career ERA of 3.44 accumulated in fifteen seasons of work. Last season for the Braves, Hudson went 8-7 and posted a 3.97 ERA, maintaining his streak of solid seasons.
However, Hudson is a fifteen year veteran. At 38, he's hardly a long-term solution for the Giants starting rotation. Still, Hudson could be a perfect fit for that very reason. The Giants have a bevy of young arms waiting in the minor league wings. Hudson could provide much needed assistance to the rotation in the short-term and allow the guys in the farm system time to mature.
Another recently rumored starting pitcher? Jason Hammel:
His numbers might not be as glitzy as Hudson's, but Hammel also pitched much of his career at hitter-friendly Coors Field and Camden Yards.
Hammel's price tag will be far less than Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, and the Giants have potential pitching reinforcements in the minor league system. A seasoned vet who will accept a shorter-term contract appears to be a safe, sensible move for Sabean.
Here's the latest on the outlook for starting pitchers this offseason:
Also talked to Sabean. Nothing imminent pitching-wise. Talking concepts on years/dollars w/agents. Would go 3 years for right guy. #sfgiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) November 13, 2013
As far as corner outfielders are concerned, the Giants could go in multiple directions. Jon Heyman writes via CBSSports.com:
It appears San Francisco is more open to moving center fielder Angel Pagan to a corner spot. The team is concerned that Pagan was limited to 71 games due to leg injuries in 2013. That could mean a look at free-agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury or trade possibilities (Denard Span is one center fielder who could be available).Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
Let's look a little closer at these two enticing outfield options. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is coming off of a World Series victory with the Boston Red Sox. However, he rejected his qualifying offer and could end up signing with a different team this offseason.
Ellsbury would add star power to a Giants outfield in desperate need of reinforcements. An Ellsbury-Pagan-Pence combination would be a force to be reckoned with. Ellsbury also has speed and gets on base, both attributes that would fit nicely with the Giants style of offense.
Then there is the elephant in the room—money. Actually, make that two elephants in the room—money and an injury-riddled history.
The first problem is money. Ellsbury's agent is Scott Boras. NESN reports Boras "is reportedly using Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million contract as a benchmark in discussions" with the Red Sox. That's a hefty contract, and the payoff would have to be huge for Sabean to pull the trigger on a signing like that.
A deterrent to forking over nearly $150 million is Ellsbury's injury history. He only played 18 games in 2010 due to five broken ribs, and he played only 74 in 2012 because of a shoulder injury.
A cheaper outfield option? Denard Span fits the bill nicely. And, according to MLB.com, the Washington Nationals are open to trading the center fielder. Span is also speedy, averaging 24 steals over six seasons, and has a solid .283 career batting average.
Span does lack power—something the Giants are looking for in signing an outfielder this offseason.
Again, there are plenty of intriguing options for the Giants this offseason. Sabean and crew will evaluate the pros and cons of each potential target and will hopefully find the perfect free-agent fits for the Giants.