Assessing the Giants' remaining needs
Although the Giants front-four of their rotation is set with the return of Tim Lincecum and arrival of Hudson, they still need to round it out with a fifth man. More than likely, they'll hammer something out with Ryan Vogelsong and bring him back on a deal that would guarantee him a much smaller base salary than the $6.5M he was set to receive, though packed with incentives that make that number reachable. I personally would like to see them aim higher though. I was partial to Josh Johnson, who identified the Giants as one of 3 or 4 teams he wanted to pitch for before signing with San Diego Wednesday. I'm well aware of the injury risk attached there, but he's just 29 and a true ace when his arm isn't broken. Anyway, time to move on to the next best, realistic target, who I believe is Dan Haren. Of course, Haren won't come cheaply either, but since the Giants are prioritizing their rotation, they could decide to throw another big, short-term deal at a starting pitcher and he'd seem like the most logical candidate to to that with now. I don't know about you, but given Haren's finish to last year and his history of success in this division, I'd certainly be content with a Cain-Bumgarner-Lincecum-Hudson-Haren rotation for the next season. A one-year, $10M deal with incentives and maybe an option year would be reasonable one the Giants side. I have no idea what he'll actually end up getting though after seeing Jason Vargas just get the deal he got.
The thing is, the Giants need to figure out how they'd like to spend their remaining free agent dollars. At this point with the way the market is shaping up, I think it makes more sense for them to stock up on pitching and that's the path it looks like they're taking. Outside of the top free agent outfielders who were offered qualifying deals by their teams and/or will get $50M+ deals, there just aren't any names that excite you or would provide a definitive everyday upgrade over Blanco.
I didn't mind the idea of bringing in Chris Young and having a speed/defensive platoon in left between he and Blanco, but not at the price he ended up signing for. Grant over at McCovey Chronicles mentions Franklin Gutierrez as a cheaper alternative to Chris Young . He was actually much more impressive than Young in '13, slugging .509 with 10 jacks in just 140 at-bats in Seattle last season. I'd probably lean towards him over his 2013 teammate Michael Morse, especially since he'd be cheaper. While Morse could give the Giants big right-handed power they need if he tapped back into his 2010-12 form, based on his 2013 season, they'd be better off letting Brett Pill share left with Blanco (if nothing else, he'd probably provide better defense than Morse). Still, Morse remains one of the few free agents out there I'd consider on one-year, prove yourself deal just because of the Giants' need for pop. Though based on what Young just got from the Mets (1 year/$7.25M) he's likely going to end up getting more than he should and in no way should they overpay for Michael Morse. He probably wouldn't want to come here to try and rebuild his offensive value anyway. Rajai Davis is out there too, and could give them a right-handed version of Gregor Blanco to platoon with the left-handed version. That combo wouldn't give you power, but the speed/defense aspect of it is at least intriguing.
A big reason for last seasons failures was because they lacked depth all over the place, and they must keep that in mind the rest of this offseason. They had a piss-poor bench in 2013 and it cost them when the likes of Pagan, Scutaro and Sandoval each missed periods of time. In addition to adding an outfielder, they really should aim to add another bat for some infield depth. A name that's intriguing for that role is Kevin Youkilis. He was basically obsolete in 2013 with injuries, but should be a go for 2014 at a huge discount. He's a guy who rakes left-handed pitching and can play both corner infield spots which would leave Arias to focus on the middle.