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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Remaining FA's that could help SF

Well, we're about halfway through the MLB offseason and what few big name free agents that were out there have started to find homes, leaving just a select few options remaining for teams looking for help, including the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants completed their primary objective with the Melancon signing earlier this month, but have yet to address left field or add any other veteran arms into their bullpen mix. I recently scoured over the list of remaining free-agents and although there doesn't appear to be a left field answer waiting for them right now, there are still a couple of guys that I think can come in and compete for a roster spot and legitimate playing time if not a starting gig. I went ahead and composed a short list with a brief description on each player and how they may be able to fit in with the Giants.

Jose Bautista OF: We'll start with the only remaining right-handed power bat capable of playing the outfield on a regular basis (sorry but Trumbo in left at AT&T would not be a good fit long term). If the Giants would be willing to sacrifice some defense for offense out there, then he could be their guy (if he's willing to take a one year deal). He's gonna hit for power wherever he goes, but the Giants big selling point to him should be to come over for a year and take a shot at winning a tittle. He could see them as more likely to reach World Series then his other suitors and may be willing to give the Giants a try for a year. A big year or a World Championship could put him in even better position next winter too. He wanted 5/$150M before the season, but now he'll be lucky to get half of that after a major, major drop-off in production from '15 to '16. Still the most exciting bat on market not named Trumbo and better defensive fit although neither would be great out there.

Luis Valbuena, UT: The Giants have Connor Gillepsie under team control, but could view Valbuena as an upgrade. He's got more pop than Gillespie, although Connor's postseason heroics may have cemented his spot on the '17 roster. Still though, Valbuena is the type of bat any manager would love to have at his disposal as he's capable of lift-off every time he steps up. Sort of the left-handed version of Juan Uribe, and remember how big he was at times for this club for 2010's World Series run! Valbuena could really give Boch some flexability though. He could move Nunez into left field and play Valbuena at third if need be or even use Valbuena or Nunez over at 2nd should Panik's struggles/injuries return in '17. For a guy who won't break the bank and can do a number of things for you, Valbuena is certainly an intriguing player.

Rajai Davis, OF: The Giants are losing Gregor Blanco, and Rajai Davis would be a fine choice and an upgrade in his vacated role. He can play all three outfield positions well, and while he doesn't usually hit for much power, he has a propensity for the big hit and still is one of the faster players in the game. He could find himself a starting job somewhere but if he wants to contend he may have to settle for a 4th outfield spot. He is going on 37 years of age but still plays like he's 28, leading the AL in steals in '16 and showing he still has plenty in the tank. I mean, right now, Gorky's Hernandez is lined up to take over Blanco's former role and this is the type of area the Giants usually overlook and it usually costs them. Say Denard Span, who's no spring chicken, goes down for two months with some bad hamstring tear or something? Nobody else on the current roster can play center on a daily basis besides Hernandez and I'd much rather roll with Rajai.

Jae-gyun Hwang, LF/3B: He's a interesting guy because scouts compare him favorably to Ben Zobrist, who the Giants loved and tried desperately to sign last winter before he wound up in Chicago. Hwang is 29 years-old, and like Zobrist, hits for moderate power, good average, has a good eye at the plate, provides some speed and can play all over the field, but he's not necessarily a standout star. From what I hear, he could be a .285/15 HR/15 SB type with decent run production depending on where he hits in the lineup. It seems like more and more serviceable big league talent is surfacing from Asia and although the Giants don't usually get involved in international free agents like this, but look at how effective Jung Ho Kang was in Pittsburgh last year and if Hwang can produce on that level he'd be well worth the investment.

As for the remaining arms, obviously they aren't looking at any starting pitchers, but there are a few bullpen guys who I would certainly take on this team in an instant. Gone are Romo, Casilla and Lopez and so far, they have replaced them with just Melancon. I still think they need at least one more proven arm down there to help Melancon out even though Derrick Law is lining up to be the 8th inning guy and Hunter Strickland is coming off a very nice year as well. However, what happens if Strickland struggles and Law, who's had injury problems in his career, hit speed-bumps? This bullpen would be up a creek without a paddle to say the least. Ideally, I'd like to see another late inning right-hander added to the mix as well as a lefty specialists a la Javier Lopez of 2010.

Brad Zieglar, RHP: He's a guy who's been about as consistent as they come over the last half decade, but as he approaches 40 his luck is bound to run out sooner than later. I think he'd be worth a dice roll for the Giants, as he could provide some veteran stability to what is now a very young and in-experienced pen. Derick Law and Hunter Strickland will compete for the set-up role, but neither has carried that role full-time and the Giants got into trouble last year with lack of depth in the pen and not having guys with defined roles. Zieglar could be that low-stress, steady as a rock 8th inning guy much like Romo's been with the Giants and in very similar style as well. Plus the Giants have lost a lot of veteran leadership now down in that pen and could really use another guy like Zieglar who can be a leader.

Jerry Blevins, LHP: After the 2014 season Javier Lopez's production took a nose-dive and the Giants haven't been able to find that "LOOGY" through their farm. I'm not a big Josh Osich guy as I think he's had ample time to prove himself and hasn't done a whole lot. Okert is intriguing, but I would feel a lot more comfortable with Blevins in the mix with the old Lopez role while Will Smith hopefully has a good year and sort of rekindles the Jeremy Affeldt slot and then things would be OK I think.

J.P. Howell, LHP: See Blevins above. Whether it's Howell or Blevins, SF could still use that one, proven left-hander to come in and get an Adrian Gonzalez, Corey Seager or Carlos Gonzalez out when needed. Again Smith's stats actually favor him facing righties more, hence the reason I see a need for one of these two. Maybe Osich or Okert eventually become that, but for a team with aspirations like the Giants', they need all the sure-fire talent they can fit onto their roster. Travis Wood is another guy who you could put in this mix too.

Drew Storen, RHP: Now he and the next guy are more reclamation projects. Storen had a dreadful first half of 2016, but finished strong and could provide a legit set-up man to Melancon and a strong veteran presence in the ladder stages of the game. Strickland and Law have the ability to be that guy, but you can never have too many good relievers and Storen's an under-30 guy who's notched a few 35+ save seasons on his resume.

Daniel Hudson, RHP: I saved the best potential set-up guy for last. Hudson is really the guy I'd like to see brought in along with one of the lefties listed above to really make this bullpen a strength. I like George Kontos, but I think they can upgrade. I didn't quite get the rush to re-sign Cory Gearin either, but I suppose that wouldn't detour the Giants from a guy like Hudson if they had a legit chance at getting him. Outside of the three closers, Hudson is the consensus next best reliever on the market so he may be priced out of the Giants range but I really think they need a player like this. Look at all those guys who were throwing 95+ the Cubs and Indians where throwing out there. The Giants need more of those guys. They have one in Strickland but that's about it. Speaking of Indians' relievers, Hudson's career path has sort of followed that of now phenom relief ace Andrew Miller. Former top starting prospects with huge stuff that never translated in the rotation, but could translate great in releif.... Just sayin'!

Wild Card Relievers: RHP Greg Holland and RHP Neftali Feliz: Both these guys are likely going to take a one-year, make good deal and really try to cash in next winter with a solid season. Holland has been an elite closer with a heater in the high-90's but TJ Surgery has taken a few MPH off his fastball and he still hasn't found a team to bite on him since his showcasing in November. Feliz is coming off a decent year and was once a highly touted reliever who is still just 28 years of age, but he showed why nobody trusts him to close full-time with his bad second half. That being said, if you got one of these guys and they turned out to be pitch closer to their potential than not, they could have themselves a steal. Feliz would seem to be a better bet although having him and Hunter Strickland on the same roster with very similar stuff may seem redundant. Now had they not signed Gearin to that one year deal, I certainly think they could have used that spot to upgrade but what do I know? That's why I'm typing on this site rather than directing the Giants player personnel decisions. 

Of course Sergio Romo is out there too still, and on paper looks close to being as good as any of the guys I mentioned above, but I think we all saw Romo sort of hit a wall last season and I think he's only got so many seasons left with getting people out with his 85-mph sinker and 72-mph slurvy slider that's lost a lot of bite and quickness the last two seasons.

The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    I was having a conversation with my friend who knows more than I do abut the Giants and actually worked with KNBR for a short period as intern in 2013 so he made some connects, and he mentioned Ziegler too as a guy he'd love on the team and would be a good fit in their clubhouse. Sturdy vet who can help the young kids in that pen like you mentioned. Oh yeah, and he has like a 1.91 ERA the last 4 seasons or something crazy, so obviously he's still getting it done. Bring on the 84 mph sidewind slurve he throws, cause he knows how to get outs and that's what this bullpen still needs. Melancon is great, but we gotta get the ball there and that wasn't always easy last year. I think Law is gonna be sick and a great set-up but not sure he's ready to do it day in and day out yet, as he showed down the stretch last year he's still a little raw. To me, Strickland can't handle the pressure so he'll always be more of a mid-reliever or 6th/7th inning guy to me. maybe i'm wrong but that's how I see it.

    Anyway, I hope they do something else to bulk up the roster. Last year I was so excited for april after they got Cueto and Samardzija but if it's just Melancon and that's it, I'll be a little let down cuz we need more help!

  • At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Sign A Damn Power Hitter! said…

    I could actually see Romo returning late in January or something if he doesn't find a home. He's still useful, and I'd rather have him out there than Strickland who I still don't trust, or that Gearin guy or basically anyone they had in that bullpen last season aside from Derrick Law. I think Law is the real deal and Melancon is too. Outside of those two, I honestly don't see an arm I'm 100% confident in getting the job done on a regular basis. Everyone has hiccups, but when there are multiple hiccups from the same guys in the same week happening over and over, then time to move on. This is why I don't want Santiago back and really wish we coulda let Gearin go and traded Will SMith too. I think this pen needed an overhaul I don't get why Evans was so keen on everyone returning. I mean yeah, KOntos and Strickland had OK numbers, but those guys were pitching in 7th inning of 5-run games typically. Strickland a little more crucial situations but he gives up too many jacks and that fastball is too straight I don't think he'll ever develop into an ace set-up guy or future closer. Just my two cents!

    I personally would love to see Joey Batts come play for us though, sign me up on that bandwagon for sure. I think he'd be a 40 HR guy here if he was healthy and maybe they can supplement him over at first base a few times a month to keep his legs fresh. I mean, you look at the year this guy had in 2015 and that type of production doubled the Giants top producers in a lot of areas including Home Runs (40), not quite RBI but he had 114 while Belt launched 17 long balls and Posey led with 80 RBI last year. And he only just turned 36, I mean, look at some of the other power bats who have thrived well into their late thirties... Bautista is not done and any team that signs him will get a steal!

  • At 3:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Uh Wil Smith struggled a lot at first but dominated down the stretch. Not sure what you were seeing.

  • At 12:23 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Where in this article does it say Will Smith is a problem??? Since you mention it though, he did come over and was struggling and added to the struggles (5.79 and 5.59 ERA's in July and August) when they really needed him to be their shot in the arm though. They paid heftily for him for that very reason. However, your right in that he eventually got going and looked really good in September but the Giants lost the division in July/August.

    Anyway, the point of this article is that Smith is unquestionably their best reliever not named Melancon and Law, and not one you want to waste for a batter in a left-on-left matchup if you can avoid it. He's more like Affeldt in that he's a little more effective vs. righties than lefties and can handle full innings when he goes out there. That's why when you see the LH relievers I listed they are more of the match-up lefties who have traditionally been much tougher on lefties than righties, again, a la Javy Lopez. Kinda like the Cubs had with Mike Montgomery. Smith can go an inning+ no matter who the batters are, especially he he throws like he did in September.

    The only issue I had with him, again, is that when they traded for him they really needed him the most and he came in and did not get the job done. During that late July-August meltdown when things were falling apart and he was pretty terrible during that stretch like every other Giants reliever aside from Law and Strickland at times.

    But I'm glad Smith is here though. He's better than any other left-handed reliever on the free agent market the Giants would have had to sign had they not traded for him which I think factored big time into their thinking for that deal. I think he's got a good season ahead, so long as he stays healthy (those knee issues with him are scary). But the Giants need more than one left handed reliever, and I'm sorry but I just don't wanna "give it" to Osich or Okert. Would much rather have another veteran like Blevins who's done this for a few years and can handle October.

  • At 12:31 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    As for the "Sign a power hitter" poster-

    It's not my money so I would give Bautista some big dollars to come over for a year, but only a year. I don't want to be tied to a 37 1/2 year-old Bautista in '18 especially if '16 was the beginning of the end for him. But hey, a one-year, $17M deal that would give him a great shot at a ring and still allow him to sign a multi-year deal next winter to go back to the AL to DH, could be a win-win all around! I mean, he's a better defender than Burrell and Ishikawa were (who the Giants each won a tittle with playing left field) and I think he'd surprise us a little with his play in left and he'd easily hit 30 jacks over here if he stayed healthy.

    Problem is, he's a player that takes great pride in hitting the ball out of the park and AT&T just does not cater to those types of one-dimensional hitters. Reason why I'd take Joey Bats though is cause even when he's not hitting he's getting on base and that bat would look great in-between Posey, Belt and Pence.

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