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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giants appear to be runners up for Sandoval

With Pablo Sandoval visiting Boston this week, it caused quite a stir on the East Coast and has every media outlet predicting the free agent third basemen will land with the Red Sox.

Now, the Giants are certainly not out of the running, but based on every indication being made from Pablo's camp and the Giants' behalf leads one to believe that the headlines are most likely true. The San Diego Padres have made a late push here as well, and although they're likely third in line behind Boston and San Francisco, their interest likely jacks up the price just a little bit. My guess is that whatever he decides, his decision will likely come sooner than later, and as much as it sucks to admit, I really do see him departing for Boston on a deal in the neighborhood of 6 years and $115M. With the ability to DH him when the time comes, the Red Sox should have no hesitation giving him an extra year or two than what the Giants will offer and you can't really blame the Giants in this case. It just makes sense for Pablo, the Red Sox and even the Giants. San Francisco is said to have offered Panda a deal in the same ballpark as the one they gave Hunter Pence (5 year/$90M), maybe even increasing the total salary up to $100M, but I don't think they'd go beyond that.

So, with the likelihood of the Giants facing life without Pablo Sandoval becoming a legitimate scenario now, the Giants need to be prepared to put a plan B in action, so let's just hope they have one. While they haven't been publicly linked to any free agent third basemen aside from Sandoval, they appear as willing as ever to make a splash in the international market. They had genuine interest in Jose Abreu last winter, and after witnessing his success and all the success recent Cuban defectors have had in the States, they could feel the time is right to make a move in that direction. They're one of about a half-dozen teams to have serious interest in the consensus number one international free agent, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. The 24 year-old right-hander has tremendous power and looks to be right in the same category as Yasiel Puig and Yeonis Cespedes. Not to say he'll have the success those two have had, but has a similar talent level not only at the plate, but also in the outfield as well. He was said to be Cuba's most prolific power hitter after Jose Abreu departed last year, but had a down season (due in large part to injury) last season. Tomas first hit MLB scout's radar with a big season at age 21 in 2012 and backed it with a nice showcase in the 2013. In the WBC that year he hit .412 (6-16) with 2 HR, a 2B and 4 RBI, then backed it up with a solid .289/.364/.538 line with 15 jacks, 54 RBI, 34 BB and 52 K's in 81 games during the regular season.

Tomas is not a player without his flaws though. He's got 30-HR/year potential as a big leaguer right now with plenty of room to grow after just turning 24 last week, but has some holes in his swing that he's reportedly been working on. Like with many of the incoming power bats from Cuba, his big power comes with a lot of swing-and-misses and the biggest concern may be whether or not he has enough discipline to hit for average in the big leagues. Like with all international players, it's a risk/reward type of signing that you have to figure out if the potential rewards outweigh the risks. Tomas isn't the only Cuban defector the Giants are looking at either. In addition to Tomas, the Giants are also interested in 19 year-old third base prospect Yoan Moncada. Unlike Tomas, Moncada isn't quite ready to be thrown into the fire in the big leagues, just because he doesn't have as much experience at 19, but he'll have plenty of time to develop and is said to have the most overall upside of any Cuban player available this winter. Tomas has the huge power, but Moncada may have a more polished all-around game and certainly should refine it even further at the minor league level.

Extras: Aside from the two international free agents, there haven't been many new names linked to the Giants in recent days and I don't think they'll really get serious with anyone until after the situation with Pablo sorts itself out. The Giants' brass all expect a decision before Thanksgiving on that front... Elsewhere, the Giants have expressed high interest in bringing back Sergio Romo, though Santiago Casilla is likely locked in as the closer for 2015 and Romo may be seeking a return to that role with a new team. I could easily see him departing for one of the SoCal teams, either the Dodgers or Angels, as he's from LA and both could use late inning relief help and have the funds to throw Romo a 3-year, $27-30M deal or whatever he's seeking. I just can't see the Giants giving him much more than $6-7M a year for 3 max though... The one possible replacement for Pablo Sandoval, should the situation present itself, who I've been monitoring and have talked about here is Chase Headley. He doesn't seem too close to a deal yet, but there are more teams in on him than Pablo as he's going to cost half the money annually and probably half the years that Pablo will. He's no Panda, but if the Giants could grab Headley, upgrade in left field and bring in another #3-type starting pitcher, they'd be just fine without Panda.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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