San Francisco Giants: 5 Offseason Moves Team Should Have Made
The San Francisco Giants should have made five moves this offseason in addition to re-signing free agents Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, and extending the contract of Santiago Casilla.
A big splash for a free agent like Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher to improve left field would have made sense. However, once the Giants completed the task of bringing back their key free agents, the budget did not allow for another big ticket item.
Thus, the additional moves that the Giants should have made are not as exciting as signing a marquee free agent, but they still would have significantly improved the team.
Let's take a deeper look at each of the moves the Giants should have made in order of their significance for the 2013 team.
Sign Scott Hairston
Instead of signing Andres Torres—another speed-and-defense player—to compete for playing time in left field with the speedy Gregor Blanco, the Giants should have signed Hairston.
Scott Hairston hit 20 home runs and slugged .504 for the Mets last season. Overall, he slashed .263/.299/.504 compared to Torres' tepid line of .230/.327/.337.
Hairston also has a better track record against left-handed pitching than Torres. He's put up a .772 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) over the last three seasons against lefties compared to .691 for Torres.
Torres has more patience and speed than Hairston, but the Giants already have patience and speed in left field with Blanco. They needed a lefty-masher with power to platoon with Blanco and provide something different. With Torres, they are just getting more of what they already had in Blanco.
Hairston is still a free agent, and he isn't likely to command a huge salary. The two-year, $10 million deal that the Red Sox gave to the platoon player Jonny Gomes would be a reasonable deal for Hairston, but he may not be able to match that contract this late in the offseason.
He would still be a good fit for the Giants, but they may not have room on the roster and on the payroll for him.
Sign Jason Grilli
The Giants reportedly had interest in Jason Grilli this offseason, but he ultimately decided to return to the Pirates on a two-year deal. Perhaps if the Giants had made a three-year offer they could have enticed him to come to San Francisco.
Right now, the Giants bullpen is too left-handed with Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Jose Mijares. Affeldt can get righties out, but Lopez and Mijares are left-handed specialists that struggle against righties. Lopez allowed a .979 OPS to righties and Mijares was only slightly better at .789.
Replacing Mijares with Grilli would have given the Giants bullpen more balance and netted them another dominant late-inning option from the right side to complement Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.
Grilli struck out a mind-blowing 90 hitters in 58.2 innings last season en route to an outstanding 2.91 ERA.
Manager Bruce Bochy will have to continue to mix and match between righties and lefties in the middle and late innings next season. That's his strength as a manager, but his job would have been a lot easier had the Giants signed a late-inning strikeout machine like Grilli.
Sign a Sixth Starter
The Giants had an amazing run of health from their starting pitchers last season. The starting five made 160 out of the 162 starts, with only Ryan Vogelsong spending time on the disabled list at the beginning of the season.
That type of health may not be sustainable going forward given the injury risk inherited with pitchers. With the likely departure of Guillermo Mota, the Giants bullpen currently lacks a long reliever. Signing a free agent pitcher with starting experience to be the long reliever and sixth starter in case of injury would have been a sound strategy for the Giants.
Jair Jurrjens was the best candidate for the role. He had a disastrous 2012 season, and he's battled injuries over the last three seasons. However, when he was healthy enough to pitch in 2011, he was outstanding.
He made the All-Star team and put up a 2.96 ERA over 23 starts that season. He's still only 26 years old, so it isn't likely that he's washed up this early in his career.
Buying low on Jurrjens would have been a good insurance policy in case one of the entrenched starters goes down with an injury. It would have also saved the bullpen on the days when a starter was knocked out early.
Sign Bobby Abreu
The Giants really struggled in pinch-hitting situations last season. As a team, they hit .218/.284/.342 in their pinch-hitting opportunities.
The current bench of Torres, Hector Sanchez, Joaquin Arias and whomever they choose among Francisco Peguero, Kensuke Tanaka, Brett Pill and Wilson Valdez for the final two bench spots are not likely to drastically improve upon that line.
Hairston and Bobby Abreu would have combined to give the Giants more thump off the bench in the late innings. The bench is very important for the Giants because they play so many close games.
Abreu was sixth in the league with a .395 on-base percentage in pinch-hitting situations last season. In 43 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, he hit .257/.395/.343.
Another good option for the bench besides Abreu would have been Reed Johnson, who returned to Atlanta on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. Johnson was second in the league with a .419 batting average as a pinch-hitter last season.
Johnson also would have been a good alternative to Hairston or Torres as a platoon mate with Blanco in left field. In addition to his pinch-hitting exploits, he hit .311/.354/.444 against left-handed pitching last season.
Despite their struggles pinch-hitting, the Giants managed an outstanding 30-20 record in one-run games in 2012. However, if they don't find a way to improve their bench, they might struggle to sustain their success in close games into 2013.
Extend Buster Posey
The Giants are going to control Buster Posey for the next four years via arbitration even without a contract extension. However, there should be more urgency in getting a long-term deal done with Posey that covers his arbitration years and multiple years of free agency.
Posey is the face of the franchise, the reigning batting champion and the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. While there's no deadline to get a long-term deal done because he's four years away from free agency, the Giants should still be aggressive in locking up their greatest asset and the player most responsible for bringing the organization two World Series titles in the last three seasons.
Signing Posey to a long-term deal is something the Giants are expected to explore in the coming months. Given everything he has done for the organization, getting a contract extension done should have been more of a priority this offseason.
Even without the moves mentioned in previous slides, the Giants have still had a successful offseason. Extending Posey would be the icing on the cake.