MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Bats the Giants Should Target Via Trade
Led by manager Bruce Bochy, the Giants will enter the 2011 season as the defending World Series champions for the first time since their days in New York, and they hope to find a way to repeat.
With an exception of the acquisition of shortstop Miguel Tejada and the departures of shortstop Edgar Renteria and second baseman Juan Uribe, the 2011 Giants will have a very similar feel to the squad that won it all in 2010.
Last season, the San Francisco Giants had the best team ERA in all of baseball, and the good news is that nearly their entire pitching staff is coming back next season. Starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner are all 27 years old or younger, and thus should all be as good, if not better, in 2011.
Meanwhile, the Giants bullpen, which was strong in 2010, will again feature a deep group of relievers, including pitchers Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and closer Brian Wilson.
With just 73 errors as a team, the Giants' defense was solid in 2010, and may have gotten better. Several young Giants have matured, while aging veterans Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe should be replaced by the more athletic Mike Fontenot and Freddy Sanchez.
This leaves just one aspect of the Giants team with room for improvement—putting runs on the board. The Giants ranked in the bottom half of baseball last season in runs, were last in stolen bases, and were were among the teams with the fewest bases on balls.
While the Giants' managing, pitching staff and defense will likely carry the team again next season, San Francisco needs to add some extra bats in order to significantly improve their chances of making it deep into the playoffs once again next season.
The Giants do not have much money to spend, but they would take on a moderate salary in order to obtain an elite offensive player.
Here are 10 bats the Giants should target via trade.
10. Kelly Johnson: 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks, still in rebuilding mode, may be inclined to trade Kelly Johnson, who is owed $2.5 million in 2011 and will be a free agent after the season. Johnson had a breakout year for Arizona last season, hitting .284 with 26 home runs and 79 walks.
While the Giants have Freddy Sanchez at second base, he doesn't have the power nor the speed that Johnson possesses.
9. Juan Pierre: CF, Chicago White Sox
No major league player has stolen more bases over the the last decade than Juan Pierre. Although not a power hitter, Pierre makes contact at the plate, antagonizes pitchers when on base and covers a lot of ground in the outfield.
The Chicago White Sox have become stronger this offseason, and may be trying to avoid having to pay the $5 million they owe to Juan Pierre in 2011. Don't be surprised if the White Sox move Pierre, possibly in a trade involving one of the Giants' relievers.
8. Nate McLouth: OF, Atlanta Braves
Before battling recent injuries with Atlanta over the last season and a half, Nate McLouth looked like one of the emerging stars in the league. As an All-Star back in 2008, McLouth had a breakout year, hitting 26 home runs and an NL-high 46 doubles for Pittsburgh.
Now 29 years old, McLouth is once again healthy and would be a great fit for the third outfield spot for San Francisco. A terrific baserunner, McLouth has stolen 83 bases in 96 career attempts, and will be a free agent after the season.
7. Nick Swisher: OF, New York Yankees
If there is one team that can afford to lose a hitter of Swisher's calliber, it is the New York Yankees.
The Yankees, who have led the majors in runs each of the last two seasons, are in need of more starting pitching. A trade in which Swisher is sent to San Francisco likely would not happen without the Giants having to trade one of their starters.
However, knowing the Yankees, they might even be willing to trade Swisher for veteran Barry Zito, who still has three years left on his contract.
Nick Swisher will be a free agent after the season and can play outfield or first base for the Giants.
One of the great clubhouse guys in the league, Swisher can hit for power and get on base via the base on ball.
6. Grady Sizemore: OF, Cleveland Indians
Prior to multiple knee injuries over the last few seasons, Sizemore was one of the true talents in the game.
A five-tool player, Sizemore led the league in extra base hits in 2006, has won multiple Gold Gloves and consistently gets on base.
The Cleveland Indians are still several years away from contending and will likely attempt to trade Sizemore, who is owed $7.5 million next season. Sizemore, 28, is expected to be back by Spring Training, and would immediately make the Giants offense much stronger.
5. Aramis Ramirez: 3B, Chicago Cubs
The Giants do not know what to expect out of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had a great OPS of .943 OPS in 2009, but just a .732 OPS in 2010. With many scouts and fans coming to the realization that Sandoval may have been a one-year wonder, the Giants should try to pick up a bat at third base
When healthy, Aramis Ramirez can be one of the better hitters in baseball. Ramirez has knocked in over 100 RBI six times and has averaged about 31 home runs per 162 games during his career.
Ramirez has missed over 100 games over the last few seasons due to injury, but at age 32, should still have some very productive years left. The Cubs, in a tough division, may want to shed some of Ramirez's salary. He is owed $14 million in 2011 with an option in 2012 worth $16 million.
4. Jose Bautista: 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Third baseman Jose Bautista shocked the baseball world last season by hitting a major league-high 54 home runs in 2010, in essentially just his second full season.
While Bautista probably won't duplicate that total in 2011, he is certainly of the premier power hitters in the game and will be a free agent after the season. Stuck in an extremely competitive division with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, Toronto should trade Bautista while his trade value is still very high.
3. Jose Reyes: SS, New York Mets
Although Reyes is very popular in New York, he is owed $11 million in 2011, he is set to become a free agent in 2012, and the frustrated Mets have averaged just 75 wins over the last two seasons.
Reyes would be a major upgrade at shortstop for the Giants over Miguel Tejada or Mike Fontenot, as he could could bat leadoff, provide much-needed speed, and can hit for power.
2. Prince Fielder: 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
While the Giants may have just shelled out $22 million to first baseman Aubrey Huff, there is very little chance that he will produce anywhere near to the extent as some of the superstar first baseman in the league.
Still just 26 years old, Prince Fielder is a beast at the plate, having averaged 38 home runs through his first five full seasons in the majors. Fielder, a free agent after this season, is also very patient at the plate, earning 224 walks over the last two seasons.
The Giants would benefit tremendously from Fielder's hitting, as well as his long at-bats, which force opposing pitchers to work harder and allow teammates to observe more pitches.
The Milwaukee Brewers are trying to win now, not several years down the road, as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are both heading into their prime. However, there are still a lot of question marks on their roster, and Fielder's trade value is at an all-time high.
1. Albert Pujols: 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols is arguably the best hitter in the game, and at 31 years old, he should remain great for the better part of this decade. A virtual guarantee for at least 35 home runs, 110 RBI and a .400 OBP every year, Pujols would also be a major upgrade on defense over Aubrey Huff.
The entire city of St. Louis idolizes Pujols, but at the same time his contract is up after the season and he is owed $16 million in 2011. Though the idea may be considered far-fetched, if St. Louis is out of playoff contention by the July 31 trading deadline, the Giants just might be able to work out a trade for the popular superstar.