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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Remaining options for Giants' roster

January 2015 is here and that means we're only about 6 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Scottsdale and the Giants begin their quest to repeat but they still have some work to do before then.

After the re-signing of Jake Peavy and the trade for Casey McGehee, the Giants may have put a wrap on their offseason. However, they remain linked to James Shields and continue to scour the market, mainly via trade, for a possible solution in left field.

The Giants obviously still have some money set aside that they were intending on giving to either Pablo Sandoval and/or Jon Lester, but they're not about to give it all away to Max Scherzer so you can give up on that dream. They have, however, stayed relevant in the James Shields sweepstakes, making us all wonder what would possibly happen if the Giants did somehow add the former Royals' ace. Talk of running out a possible 6-man rotation have been brought up, also a possible full-time move of Tim Lincecum to the bullpen would be an option. I think that if the Giants did get Shields though, their best move would be to trade Timmy (if they could) to someone like Seattle and swallow a large portion of his 2015 salary of $17.5M. Sending him to the bullpen may not go over well with him in his contract year and while he's taken his fall from glory the past few years very professionally, the Giants certainly don't want to disrespect a guy who helped elevate this franchise to the place they're at. I think Shields would make this rotation a clear-cut powerhouse again, with the return of a healthy Cain and a full year of Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.17 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 78 IP after trade). I just don't see it happening though, and I think Shields will wind up in Boston or LA (either Dodgers or Angels).

While they continue to monitor Shields' situation, the Giants have to be mulling over the remaining outfield options out there and although there aren't many great options like Justin Upton was, they should be able to find someone of value if they want. Ben Zobrist's name came up prior to last season's trade deadline as a possibility at 2nd base for the Giants, and now he's been linked to the team again as a possible left field option. Zobrist is a versatile, strong defender with an above-average bat. He'd give Bochy a bunch of flexibility not only defensively but offensively too as Zobrist can hit anywhere in the order. With the Rays' recent acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera, some are wondering if it's a precursor for a Zobrist deal, but we'll have to wait and see. Another option I'd like besides Zobrist if the Giants indeed go the trade route would be Boston's Allen Craig. The 30 year-old outfielder/first basemen put together three solid years in St. Louis from 2011-13 but then struggled a bit in 2014 before being sent to Boston, where he faded miserably at the end of the year. 2014's downfall plus Boston's gluttony of outfielders may make Craig available and relatively attainable.

Those would be the two guys I'd try and target if I'm Sabean, but I wouldn't hold my breath in hopes of reaching a deal for either one. A much more realistic option for the Giants, as the calender has flipped to January and 2015 has officially begun, will be scraping a bottom of the free agent barrel for a potential right-handed platoon partner for Gregor Blanco. Two guys that immediately come to mind who fit that bill are Ryan Ludwick and Jonny Gomes. Both have traditionally torched left-handed pitching and are coming off down years looking to sign one-year, make good deals. Of the two, I'd lean towards Gomes, who's a Bay Area native and has platooned vs. lefties his whole career. Ludwick may have slightly more upside just because he could get healthy and possibly take over the everyday left fielder job, but he's been next to worthless since 2012. Some other names that have been floating around the market are Cameron Maybin and Will Venable from San Diego, as the Padres now are stacked with 3 all-star caliber outfielders. Danial Nava and Shane Victorino are a couple of lesser desired Boston outfielders should they get desperate. Then there's Delmon Young, who would make Michael Morse look like a gold-glover out there and is also free after a solid 7/30/.302/.777 slash line in just 242 at-bats with Baltimore last season.

While I don't expect them to do anything major between now and the time pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Scottsdale next month, they should at least add another outfielder to the mix if nothing else. I'd give them an outside shot at ending up with Shields but I'd say the chances of it happening are slim to none.

I do want to wish all our readers a very happy new year. I truely appreciate those who read this blog regularly. We had some inconsistencies with our posting in 2014 but want to provide a more stable posting schedule for the upcoming year and get back to at least 1-2 posts per week. Hopefully 2015 is every ones best year yet and the Giants bring another one home in October!
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