Trade for an outfielder.
The pitching rotation is relatively set after the Giants successfully signed Tim Hudson to a $23 million, two-year contract and re-signed Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year deal, pending a physical according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the bullpen, the Giants successfully re-signed left-hander Javier Lopez to a three-year, $13 million contract. This move and the re-signing of starting pitcher Tim Lincecum were two of Sabean's top priorities to accomplish this offseason.
Now, as the winter meetings approach, it's time to look for an outfielder.
Sounds easy. However, given Sabean's parameters of making such a deal happen, the GM will have to be creative in adding a solid bat into the Giants outfield.
High-priced free-agent outfielders are off the table for the Giants. Rumor has it "former" Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is closing in on a seven-year deal, as reported by Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com. Sabean and the Giants are, as a matter of principle, unwilling to part with a draft pick in signing a free agent who previously rejected a qualifying offer from his former team. This list includes Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
Unfortunately, it also appears Sabean is willing to settle on a platoon situation. Chris Haft via MLB.com:
Trading for an outfielder might seem viable for the Giants, particularly since they've succeeded in this realm. During the 2011-12 offseason, they acquired Melky Cabrera and Pagan, both of whom helped revitalize the offense. But Sabean indicated the Giants might have to settle for obtaining a right-handed-batting complement to left-handed-swinging Gregor Blanco -- unlike the 2012 season, when Pagan and Cabrera (before his suspension for a positive PED test) played every day.
Still, in theory, Sabean has trade chips to work with to obtain a higher-tiered outfielder and avoid another failed platoon situation. One such option would create some very unhappy San Francisco fans: Trade third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
His tenure with the Giants has been up-and-down. Nobody can discount his contributions to the 2012 World Series run, or his standout 2009 and 2011 seasons. However, Sandoval simply has not been consistent. And, with his weight issues and subpar fielding record, Sandoval appears more suited for a designated hitter role with an AL team.
Sandoval is also steadily approaching free agency. If the Giants don't have the Kung Fu Panda in their future, why not try to get someone in return for his exit?
The problem with dealing Sandoval for a premier outfielder is that would fill one hole in the outfield and create another gaping hole at third base.
In terms of potentially available outfielders to be dealt in a trade, the market is enticing but thin—especially for the Giants.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have expressed the possible availability of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes: "They are in what Colletti believes is a decent spot. Decent enough that clubs are calling to see if a perceived surplus outfielder like Kemp or Andre Ethier is available and Colletti is definitely listening, which isn't the same as trying to unload, or determined to."
Let's take a step back. The odds of a division rival dealing a game-changing player are not exactly in the Giants' favor.
Sabean is either resigned to another platoon situation in 2013, or he is displaying a remarkable poker face. Hopefully, the GM can pull something out of his bag of tricks.