5 Realistic Moves the San Francisco Giants Could Make This Offseason
What Moves Should the San Francisco Giants Make this Offseason?
After a offseason following their 2012 World Series Victory that saw the San Francisco Giants make no trades and sign just one major league free agent, the since-departed Andres Torres, the team will be gearing up for what could be one of its biggest offseasons in recent memory. With the Giants having gaping holes in several spots, most notably in the back end of the starting rotation and in left field, GM Brian Sabean and his subordinates have some serious work to do to ensure that the Giants can deliver an effective on-field product in 2014.
The first step of that process was making some tough decisions to part ways with players who have previously brought positive results to the organization. In an unsurprising move, the Giants decided to do this by declining the 2014 options on left-hander Barry Zito and the aforementioned Torres. In a more debatable decision, the team also decided to decline right-hander Ryan Vogelsong's option. While it's been said that the door is open for the 36-year-old to return on a more financially-friendly deal, the club's actions in recent days and the statements that have come from Vogelsong's wife Nicole on Twitter would lead you to believe that he's probably thrown his last pitch as a Giant.
Now San Francisco can begin the process of making additions to improve their chances at success next year. Here are five moves that the Giants could realistically make in order to fortify their 2014 roster.
5. Re-Sign Javier Lopez
The 36-year-old Lopez had the most effective season of his career in 2013, and he deserves to get rewarded for it. While nothing is certain, Lopez has stated that he wants to return to San Francisco in 2014, and by getting rid of some salary by buying out Vogelsong, the Giants should have a little bit more financial flexibility to bring him back. Things can always change, but the most likely scenario for now seems to include Lopez in a Giants uniform on opening day.
4. Find Another Second Baseman
After his spectacular playoff performance in 2012, the Giants gave Marco Scutaro a three-year deal worth $6.67 million per year. The 38-year-old Scutaro should be able to contribute in some capacity for the duration of his deal, but he regressed defensively in 2013, was repeatedly plagued by injuries, and insisted on staying in the lineup to the point where it hurt both him and other players.
It would be wise for the Giants to find a player who is capable of platooning with Scutaro, someone who is good enough to start but not such a dominant force that they will require all of the playing time at second. There's been no talk of him being connected to the Giants, but left-handed-hitting Skip Schumaker would be a near-perfect fit, especially considering that he can also back up in the outfield.
3. Trade for an Outfielder
There were rumors afloat that the Giants were going to sign Cuban defector Jose Abreu, plug him in at first base, and move Brandon Belt to left field. Ultimately, those did not materialize, as Abreu signed with the White Sox. With a weak free-agent market that will likely see Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury get monstrously overpaid, there aren't too many viable options if the Giants want a reliable everyday left fielder. And as we saw last season, they don't have anyone in-house that they can trust to carry the load for a full season.
That makes it more likely that the Giants will consider trading for a left fielder, which might be realistic considering that they have an overstock of quality pitching prospects. In addition, it's been speculated that 2015 free agent Pablo Sandoval could be on the market. Quite frankly, though, the Giants are probably looking for a stopgap until Belt moves out to left field full time, so it might not take as much. Players like Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce could be targets, since he'll be a free agent sooner rather than later and doesn't have a bunch of value to his current organization.
2. Sign Masahiro Tanaka
It's been suggested that the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, could end up being the most highly-paid international free agent in MLB history. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees have been named as suitors for Tanaka, so the Giants certainly would have to pony up financially to acquire him. That said, it's repeatedly been mentioned by multiple Giants beat reporters that the team is trying to increase its international profile in 2014, and it would be logical for them to add a pitcher considering that they currently have two vacant rotation spots. If they really want to make a splash, signing Tanaka would be a great way to do it.
1. Bring in an Established Veteran Starter
As previously stated, the Giants have two open rotation spots at the moment. While one of those conceivably could go to someone such as Yusmeiro Petit, who forced the issue down the stretch in 2013, it would be nice for the Giants to add someone who has a more reliable big-league track record. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thursday that the Giants have a list of starters they are looking into which includes Tim Hudson, Dan Haren and Bronson Arroyo. The 36-year-old Arroyo looms as a particularly intriguing possibility since he publicly praised the city of San Francisco late in 2013.