Are the San Francisco Giants Ready to Go All-Out Internationally?

By Patrick Karraker
Kenta Maeda
Kyle Terada- USA TODAY Sports

Ever since it has become popular for MLB teams to bid on high-priced international free agents, the San Francisco Giants have stayed out of the spotlight. Though they’ve done their fair share of spending on 16-year-olds who they’ve developed at their Dominican baseball facility, the Giants have never brought in a player who’s been ready to make an impact right away. However, with the success over the past few years of the Oakland AthleticsYoenis Cespedes and the Los Angeles DodgersYasiel Puig, the Giants may finally be ready to take a gamble on a foreign import who could be an immediate difference-maker.

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry Schulman circulated two rumors regarding international players via Twitter on Thursday night:

Sabean, Alou are in Dominican scouting Cuban defector Jose Abreu, per @espndeportes. 1st baseman. Not a great body, but can hit for power.

— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) September 13, 2013

#sfgiants have never really been out of foreign market, but not whole-hog in. Now they are. Serious about Japan Ps Tanaka and Maeda.

The latter tweet refers to Japanese starters Masahiro Tanaka and Kenta Maeda. The 24-year-old Tanaka has an incredible 20-0 record this year with a 1.24 ERA and a 95-MPH fastball. Maeda, a 25-year-old righthander who starred for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, is less of a flamethrower and is as thin as a rail at 6-foot and 154 pounds. He has excellent control, however, and has a 1.92 ERA with 135 strikeouts and just 32 walks this year. With the Giants having Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner under contract and several impact minor-leaguers on the way, it seems somewhat illogical that the Giants would be going after another big-money starting pitcher. That being said, they may be so serious about developing an elite rotation that they are willing to go to whatever expense is necessary to make it work.

The 26-year-old Abreu, who defected from Cuba last month, would seem to be more of an obvious candidate if the Giants are looking for an immediate upgrade. Many believe that he is the best prospect to come out of Cuba among this new wave of talent that has emerged recently. In 2011, he hit .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI over just 66 games. His power-hitting ability would give the Giants an element to their offense that they have not had since the days of Barry Bonds. Though his acquisition would force the Giants to move Brandon Belt to left field, it would restore reliability to every position in their lineup.

Due to their passive draft strategy in recent years, which has seen them take several middle infielders and this year included them taking two high schoolers with their first two picks, it would be very beneficial for the Giants to go after more of a major-league ready talent. Though it’s always a risk to pay a lot of money to a player with no big-league experience, there’s been so much success in recent years with players like Yu Darvish, Puig, and Cespedes that the Giants should not be afraid to take that risk. In fact, with a team that is so desperate for offense, it makes all the sense in the world.

Patrick Karraker is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @PatrickKarraker, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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