The San Francisco Giants are heading into the offseason with a ton of things they need to do. They need to re-sign Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez, as well as bring back Chad Gaudin and Ryan Vogelsong. They also need to add a starting left fielder and possibly another starting pitcher. That’s a lot of things that the Giants have on their table. Whether or not they can accomplish all of these things remains to be seen, but for the sake of this article I’m going to focus on the first base and outfield options that are out there for the Giants to explore.
I’m not suggesting the Giants should replace Brandon Belt, because they shouldn’t and they won’t, but at the same time if the Giants can get a first baseman who can hit for power they will do that and move Belt to left field. Belt told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle a couple of days ago that’d he’d be willing to move to the outfield if it means helping the Giants win. This is an option for the Giants, especially if they are able to sign power hitting Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu. Abreu is the next Cuban star in line following in the footsteps of Aroldis Chapman, Jose Fernandez, Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig.
Abreu has as much raw power as anybody. He was consistently hitting 30 home runs in a very competitive Cuban league as well as hitting well over .300 in the last few seasons.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick previously wrote an article that profiles Abreu’s future in Major League Baseball. Several scouts, when asked by Crasnick, said that Abreu could hit 20-25 home runs in the bigs right now even though he is still really raw. That’s certainly high praise and something that would help the Giants immediately in the power department.
On the downside, Abreu will command a big contract. How big exactly? His contract could be worth more that Yasiel Puig’s seven-year $42 million contract with the Dodgers. Abreu’s contract may be in excess of 60 million dollars. Another downside of Abreu is that he will be 27 years old next season so he’s not particularly young. Other cheap veteran options at first base include Kendrys Morales and Mike Napoli.
Now, if the Giants don’t sign Abreu because he’s too expensive there are several outfielders out there that the Giants could pursue. According to reports, some outfielders that the Giants could be looking at include Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, and former Giant Carlos Beltran.
Of the three, Choo would certainly be the best fit. He has the versatility to hit anywhere in the lineup from leadoff to eighth. He plays good defense and is a guy who will give you good overall play as he’s doing with the Cincinnati Reds this season. Choo is the only true left-fielder of the group although he can play center and left.
Ellsbury is a guy who is one of the best leadoff hitters and centerfielders in baseball when he’s healthy. But, that’s a big if. At best, Ellsbury will probably play between 130 and 140 games when healthy, but it’s more like 100-110 as he’s averaged including this season just 101 games for his big league career. Also, since the Giants have Angel Pagan, they don’t need a centerfielder.
Finally, Carlos Beltran is an interesting case. I don’t think that this is going to happen because the Giants burned too many bridges with Beltran a couple of years ago when they apparently didn’t show any interest in wanting to sign him when he was a free agent. Beltran, if he chose to return, would be welcomed back by the San Francisco fans and would provide very solid play in the Giants’ outfield. He would certainly provide the Giants with power, speed, good defense and someone who would pair really well with Pagan and, more than likely, Hunter Pence.
On top of all this the Giants need to re-sign Pence. Pence has been making a late season salary charge recently. Pence has 25 home runs and 93 RBIs while hitting .291, and has 21 steals on top of that.
It’s safe to say Pence has been the Giants best hitter this season and is a true 5 tool player that the Giants would love to keep. With the way he’s playing, his salary continues to go up: the Giants are already discussing a contract extension with Pence, who has said he would love to return, but also that he won’t give the Giants a hometown discount. If the Giants are able to re-sign Pence and add another hitter to their lineup, they could be a really solid team again next year.
The Giants have a lot to do, but these are the two biggest things the Giants need to do: either add power at first base or add another outfielder. The Giants still have questions about their pitching staff but they are banking that Cain and Bumgarner are going to be solid and that the combination Lincecum, Vogelsong, Gaudin, and Yusmeiro Petit will at least be above average. If that’s the case and the Giants offense lives up to par then the Giants could be a very good team next year and return to contention.