Ranking the San Francisco Giants’ 5 Biggest Offseason Needs
5 Priorities for the San Francisco Giants' Offseason
After a season in which they struggled to put up consistent results, finishing in third place and failing to reach a .500 record for the first time since 2008, the San Francisco Giants will have to be active this offseason if they hope to be competitive in 2014. Perhaps the organization's biggest flaw coming into the 2013 season was being too complacent with their roster following a 2012 World Series victory. As a result, they got virtually no production out of a massive left field platoon, saw frequent failure from their starting pitching due to their failure to acquire sufficient depth, and had to trot out over-the-hill veterans like Ramon Ramirez and underdeveloped young players like Jake Dunning because their bullpen fell apart.
This year, the Giants have stated that they are willing to make big moves, though they've done nothing so far to prove it. They didn't sign Cuban power hitter Jose Abreu, who many believed would be a target for the Giants but ultimately signed with the Chicago White Sox. They reportedly are not going to pursue Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka who is arguably the most high-profile starter on the market this offseason. The only free agents they have been connected to are veteran starters such as Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo. While each of these pitchers have experienced success over their long major-league careers it's unlikely that either of them are capable of doing enough at this point to single-handedly turn the Giants back into a winning team. Safe to say the team will need to make a bigger splash if they want to be taken seriously as NL West contenders coming into next season.
Here are the five areas the Giants should be targeting the most in order to have a successful offseason.
5. A Left Handed Reliever
The Giants are thought to have a good shot at re-signing Javier Lopez, who had a 1.83 ERA over 69 appearances for San Francisco this past season. But if they aren't willing to offer him the money he believes he deserves after being one of the majors' top lefty specialists in 2013 there will be another team that does.
If the Giants don't bring Lopez back it would behoove them to sign or trade for a reliable replacement. 34-year-old Jeremy Affeldt can't be counted on to shoulder the load following an injury-plagued 2013 that saw him put up a 3.74 ERA over just 39 appearances. 29-year-old Jose Mijares will probably be non-tendered after putting up a 7.71 ERA after the All-Star break. The team needs Lopez or a pitcher of his ilk that makes sure opposing left handed hitters are taken care of in the later innings.
4. A Fifth Starter
San Francisco needs to find someone to fill the fifth spot in their starting rotation. While they could theoretically give the position to right hander Yusmeiro Petit, who generally fared well in seven late-season starts, it doesn't really make sense to award him the position outright since he hasn't had a lot of major-league success. It could be as simple as bringing back 2013 rotation member Chad Gaudin on a minor league contract, but the Giants should get someone to at least push Petit during spring training.
It would be perfectly fine for them to bring in a more established player as well. They could elect to bring back Ryan Vogelsong who was recently bought out but has a history of bringing positive contributions to the organization. If the Giants don't end up signing two more highly-regarded starters they could still go after a pitcher who is coming off an off year such as former San Diego Padre Clayton Richard, who put up a 7.01 ERA in 11 starts last year but was decently effective over his previous three seasons.
3. A “1-A” Second Baseman
Marco Scutaro put up good numbers in 2013, but he showed to anyone who watched closely that he can no longer be relied on as an everyday second baseman. Scutaro, who's spent the majority of his career as a utility infielder, regressed significantly on defense and continually struggled with hand and back injuries, yet he continued to insist on being in the lineup daily. On top of causing Scutaro's injuries to worsen this caused Scutaro's backup, Nick Noonan, to fall out of his groove at the plate and resulted in Noonan's eventual demotion to Triple-A so that he could receive consistent playing time.
For 2014, the Giants need to find someone who can consistently complement Scutaro and keep him fresh, preferably a left handed hitter. This needs to be a player who is capable of starting long term in the event that Scutaro's injuries derail him again. Former Los Angeles Dodger Skip Schumaker or switch-hitter Alexi Casilla, who played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013, would seem to be reasonable targets.
2. A Number Four (or Three) Starter
It's likely that the Giants will sign one of the higher-profile free agent starting pitchers who are on the market. The most realistic scenario likely involves them signing an older starter such as Tim Hudson or Bronson Arroyo who will command decent money but won't require long-term deals. This will allow the Giants to plug their highly-regarded pitching prospects, such as Kyle Crick, into the rotation in a few years without controversy. Another route the team could go would be to take a flyer on Scott Feldman who had the best year of his career in 2013 between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles but has not been very effective over the rest of his career.
A more unlikely scenario involves the Giants bringing in a star pitcher who could move ahead of current number three starter Tim Lincecum in the rotation. It's been said that the Giants are willing to explore a trade for a starter, and it's still theoretically possible that the Giants could decide to enter the bidding for Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, the biggest international player in this year's free agent class.
1. A Legitimate Left Fielder
Just as many predicted when the Giants announced that Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres would handle a left field platoon in 2013, the position was a disaster for the team. The nine different players who started in left for the Giants in 2013 combined for a .257 average, five homers, and a team low .337 slugging percentage. It's absolutely imperative that the Giants bring in an established player to either handle left field or push either Brandon Belt or Angel Pagan into the position.
It's becoming more likely that the Giants will have to make a trade in order to fill this spot, as the few trustworthy players on the market, namely Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Carlos Beltran, are going to get massive deals that don't fit into the Giants' plans. We saw evidence of this on Tuesday when the Phillies gave Marlon Byrd, who hit .210 in 2012 and was suspended for PED's, a 2-year, $16-million deal. The Giants could elect to take a gamble with a free agent coming off a bad year such as Mike Morse or Curtis Granderson. But after such poor performance the team may be motivated to part with prospects in order to get more of a know quantity in their lineup.