The San Francisco Giants are focused on a return trip to the World Series and their third world championship in the past five seasons.
The team is off to a good start in 2014, as new additions Tim Hudson, Michael Morse and Brandon Hicks have all contributed to the Giants' early-season success.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean deserves a lot of credit for identifying these players and acquiring them, along with his focus on retaining several of the team's own free agents or potential free agents.
In the Giants' previous two title runs, Sabean made some extremely valuable acquisitions around the trade deadline to bolster the team's roster.
In 2010, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell joined the team near the deadline and provided some much-needed offense. Ross came through when it mattered most, as he was the MVP of the NLCS.
Also in 2010, relievers Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Chris Ray all contributed. Lopez has turned out to be one of the best left-handed relief specialists in the game. In addition to 2010, Lopez was also a key reliever in the Giants' title run in 2012.
In 2012, Sabean's shrewd maneuvers around the trade deadline also helped the Giants immensely. His acquisition of Marco Scutaro for Charlie Culberson fueled the Giants' title run. Like Ross only two years earlier, Scutaro had a monster NLCS and was named MVP.
The Giants will likely want to make some moves this summer as well. In particular, the depth in the infield and outfield is very thin.
Outfielders Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez have hit very poorly, and Perez has been sent to the minors. Tyler Colvin, who was recently recalled from the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, will get a chance to play a lot in left field.
The injury to Brandon Belt, who is likely to miss as many as eight weeks due to a broken thumb, means that Morse will move from left field to first base. Colvin has his opportunity, with Blanco remaining as a reserve outfielder.
In the infield, Brandon Hicks has done a credible job at second base replacing the injured Scutaro. Although hitting only .200 at the time this article was written, Hicks has seven home runs and 15 RBI. His OBP is a respectable .328, and his OPS is a solid .778.
Veteran utility player Joaquin Arias is a solid defensive player but has not hit the ball with any authority. He is currently batting just .161 with an OBP of .203 and OPS of .364.
These are abysmal numbers for Arias, but at least he is a solid veteran with a good track record. The Giants should see improvement from Arias if history comes anywhere near repeating itself.
The Giants' other utility infielder is Ehire Adrianza, who frankly does not belong in the major leagues. Adrianza rarely plays, and when he does, he has made far too many mistakes.
In addition to a weak batting average of only .171 and OBP of .189, Adrianza has made mistakes on the bases and defensively which have hurt the Giants.
Adrianza is out of minor league options, so the Giants risk losing him if they try to send him down. However, with manager Bruce Bochy having virtually no confidence in Adrianza, the Giants are essentially playing one man short.
Sabean must ultimately upgrade the bench, and he will need to take the risk of losing Adrianza to a waiver claim. Failure to move Adrianza off the Giants' 25-man roster will ultimately cost the San Francisco dearly. He is simply does not belong at the big league level at this stage of his career.
With the two main needs being utility roles in the infield and outfield, Sabean should attempt to bolster those areas.
When considering who the Giants might be able to acquire for a reasonable price, there are several considerations. The first issue is that any team that could possibly face the Giants in the NL playoffs is unlikely to do anything to help them.
The next concerns that Sabean must deal with revolve around cost. Contracts and what another team will demand from the Giants are major considerations.
Let's take a closer look at who might be available and how that player would fit into the Giants roster.