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Monday, November 18, 2013

Targeting an outfielder via trade?

We know the Giants' first and foremost priority this winter is to fill out their two remaining rotation spots with arms that will help significantly improve upon last season's starting five, which posted a combined ERA north of 4.50. They still, however, must improve their offense, which also ranked amongst the league's lowest in run production.

Now, we've talked extensively about some starting pitchers the Giants should, are and may be pursuing in the coming days/weeks, but we haven't really discussed some of the offensive options yet. Jacoby Ellsbury would be exciting, Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson would bring tons of power, and Carlos Beltran would really be the ideal fit, but none of those guys are realistic for the Giants with their pitching needs. There are some second-tier right-handed bats that would pose serviceable fall-back options as platoon partners for Blanco if the Giants run out of money, but they really should be aiming higher. Since they aren't really in the market for one of those top outfielders though, their best bet would be scour the trade market. As much as I agree with prioritizing the rotation, they simply cannot forget about the outfield this time around cause we all saw how the Andres Torres/Blanco/Peguero/Francoeur platoon worked last year. However, if it comes down to that, and the Giants' only viable option is to sign an outfielder to a short-term deal, I think Chris Young should be near the top of the 2nd-tiere outfielder list. At 30 years of age, he's a good candidate to rebound, and is a guy who can hit for power, provide speed, take some walks and absolutely dominate the outfield defensively. If he hits over .250 with all those tools, he'll end up being one of the steals of the offseason.

Corey Hart is another guy who's intriguing just because of his monster power and expected low price tag, but of course he comes with major risks seeing as he's had both knees operated on in the last 12 months. His outfield days may be behind him, but if the Giants feel he can handle first base on a daily basis, his 30-HR potential may drive them to move Brandon Belt out into left field.

The more you examine the outfield situation with the Giants, the more sense it would make to upgrade via the trade market. Not a huge blockbuster deal, but maybe one along the lines of the Angel Pagan deal they made two years ago, or when they swapped Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera that offseason. At the time, both were impact moves, but none that shook up the farm system and cost the Giants a bunch of top prospects. Guys coming off down or injury-plagued years (who are good bets to rebound) or arbitration eligible players do for raises would seem like the Giants' market. I don't really know which players will be available yet, but a couple of guys who may be out there are Drew Stubbs, B.J. Upton, Josh Willingham and Alejandro De Aza. The outfielder who's seemingly always on the market and one I've always liked is Dexter Fowler. I don't know if the Rockies are willing to deal him inner-division, and I know a lot of his damage has been done at Coors, but this guy's got some legit talent and could really be a superstar-caliber player if he just stays healthy for 150 games.

Whether it be a slight upgrade via free agency, or something they do through the trade market, I fully expect them to address left field with more urgency than last year. They felt like they could skate by getting solid defense and minimal offense in left because they won a World Series with a Blanco-Pagan-Pence outfield. I guess they failed to realize they had a .350 hitting Melky Cabrera that helped get them to the playoffs there for most the season though. Hopefully they don't make the same mistake this time around.

Rumor Segment: If you've been on twitter, listened to KNBR or checked up on any of the Giants websites Saturday, then you know the Giants are reportedly one of the teams in on Ricky Nolasco. If that's true, I certainly hope they aren't one of the teams offering him one of the four supposed 4-year deals he's got on the table. Again, I like Nolasco, he's a nice 3 and very good 4 should Lincecum regain form, but again, I go no more than 3 years and $12M/per.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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