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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More LF talk at Winter Meetings

We're on day three of what has been a pretty quiet Winter Meetings in Orlando thus far, and with things set to wrap up on Thursday, the Giants are still trying to find a find an alternative option in left field.

We've heard various names mentioned in regards to the Giants over the last week, from potential trade targets like Brett Gardner and Norichika Aoki to potential free agent options like Michael Morse and Corey Hart. Aoki was dealt to Kansas City on Monday though while Corey Hart followed Robinson Cano to Seattle as outfield options keep falling off the market each day. Perhaps the most intriguing name linked to the Giants over the last couple of days though has been Chicago White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza, who's become expendable in Chicago with the addition of Adam Eaton. San Francisco has reportedly called the White Sox about the speedy outfielder numerous times over the last few days and apparently have considerable interest. It makes sense. I've said all along that while a right-handed bat would be ideal, most plausible options for the Giants seem to be left-handed and it shouldn't detour them if they feel like they can upgrade. De Aza would be a substantial upgrade to Blanco as he's just as valuable defensively and is much more dynamic in the batters box. The 29 year-old is coming off a respectable season in which he saw his average take a bit of a dive from previous years (.264) but also saw his power and run production take a spike (17 HR, 62 RBI, 84 runs). He hit .329 with a .920 OPS as a part-timer in 2011, then had a .286/9/50/.760 line with 26 steals as he took over the everyday center field duties in 2012.

He's very similar to Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera (late bloomer, gap power and a lot of speed), each of which turned out to be great additions prior to the Championship 2012 season, and that style of play seems to translate well at AT&T Park. His home run total would take a hit, but with his speed and extra-base power, I could see him easily hit 40+ doubles and 10+ triples playing in this yard. He could take over the leadoff spot and allow Pagan to move down in the order, or he and Pagan could give the Giants a dynamic 1-2 punch atop the order while Scutaro moves down to 7th and solidifies the bottom of the order. Of course, it all comes down to what the White Sox would want for him, but judging by what Aoki and Logan Morrison just got dealt for, it seems to be a reasonable trade market for outfielders right now. Gary Brown straight up may be enough to get De Aza, though with their paper thin organizational depth, I'm not sure the Giants want to give up on a guy who was their clear-cut #1 prospect just 2 winters ago just yet.

Other than De Aza, there hasn't been much Giants' news coming out of Orlando this week. The general consensus still is that the Giants will find another outfielder, whether it be someone for some depth or someone that challenges Blanco for the starting job, but the longer they go without making a move, the less likely is seems that it'll be an upgrade. Another name that's out there that would provide that right-handed power the Giants are searching for is Josh Willingham. He's very much on the market and is similar to Michael Morse (who the Giants have shown interest) with a better track record and slightly better defense. He's in the final year of his deal that pays him $7M in 2014, and is just a year removed from a .260/35/110/.890 line that he put up in a tough hitters environment. Especially if the Giants take on all that salary for 2014, he would seem to be a guy they could get without parting with one of their top 4-5 prospects, and his high on-base percentage and power would make him a suitable platoon partner for Blanco even if he doesn't revert back to pre-2013 form.

Aside from De Aza, Andrew Baggarly just tweeted that the Giants are in negotiations with Jeff Baker, a super utility type who very well could take the role as Blanco's right-handed platoon partner. He simply tore up left-handed pitching last season (10 HR, 18 RBI, .314 Avg, 1.073 OPS in 105 at-bats). With his offensive ability and ability to play all over the diamond (3B, 2B, 1B, RF, LF) he's exactly the type of player the Giants could use off the bench, but if he does indeed sign, I hope it wouldn't preclude them for still looking to upgrade left.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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