The San Francisco Giants are enduring full-fledged offseason uncertainty in left field, where they remain in need of a potential difference-maker that can help propel their power-free offense. GM Brian Sabean has remained static in carefully assessing possible free agent options, but refuses to sign a frontline player simply for the sake of filling a glaring void.
That said, the limited talent available on the open market should prompt the Giants to explore potentially signing a few non-tendered free agents in attempt to revamp their bench and increase the depth of their 25-man roster.
The advantage of signing non-tendered players is that they’re usually inexpensive, boasting high rewards and minimal risks. Outfielder Xavier Paul is a potential target for the Giants, who could be used in a platoon situation in left field. San Francisco values players that post stellar numbers in the field. Paul owns a respectable .980 fielding percentage, which would certainly factor into whether the Giants opt to pursue his services.
Paul wouldn’t be a quick fix solution to the Giants’ power struggles, although he has the potential to be a solid complementary player, especially off the bench. The 28-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder is a career .254 hitter in 673 official at-bats. He smashed seven home runs and drove in 32 runs last season for the Cincinnati Reds.
His most glaring issue is a high tendency to strike out. Paul went down on strikes 53 times in 239 plate appearances last season, which is a solid indicator that he’s not a starting-caliber player.
If the Giants are unable to find a legitimate difference-maker in left field via trade, signing a player like Paul to complement speedy outfielder Gregor Blanco would become a practical solution. The Giants might be more apt to signing a right-handed bat though, considering that Blanco also hits left-handed.
Other non-tendered free agents that could spur interest from San Francisco include a pair of dynamic bullpen arms: Andrew Bailey and Ronald Belisario. Shoring up the bullpen is going to be pivotal for the Giants if they’re unable to drastically increase the strength of their everyday lineup.
Bailey is a hard-throwing right-hander that owns solid career statistics. In 218 innings pitched, he has recorded a 2.64 ERA with 89 saves and 229 strikeouts. The two-time All-Star posted a 3.77 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched for the World Champion Boston Red Sox last season. He’d be a substantial addition to a premier band of late-innings hurlers.
Belisario is also an intriguing option for the Giants. The 30-year-old Venezuelan native posted a 3.97 ERA in 68 innings of work for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. He’s a viable reliever that can eat up a ton of innings, which bodes well for San Francisco’s bullpen.
The Giants are ultimately going to need to be creative in assembling a formidable roster capable of competing with the arch-rival Dodgers in 2014, which means Sabean will continuously carefully assess all options.