This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
After failing to make the playoffs just a year after winning the World Series, the San Francisco Giants have several areas that need to be addressed in the offseason. Most importantly, the Giants need to find a serviceable starting left fielder for next season.
Jun 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco (7) is greeted at the dugout by team mate left fielder Andres Torres (56) after a lead off home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants entered this season with a left-field platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres. When Angel Pagan got injured, these two players, who aren’t everyday players, were expected to start in both center field and left field. The Giants’ offense struggled in Pagan’s absence and they saw why they need to acquire a player who can play in left field every day.
Now that the Giants’ 2013 season is over and they’re officially in the offseason, which left fielders should they pursue in free agency? Who are some candidates for the starting left fielder for the Giants in the 2014 season?
Some players in the Giants organization that could start in left field are Blanco (who is eligible for arbitration), Juan Perez, Francisco Peguero and Roger Kieschnick. As mentioned before, the Giants saw that Blanco can’t hit consistently enough to be an everyday left fielder, but he will certainly earn some spot starts next season and could come into games as a defensive replacement.
Peguero and Kieschnick didn’t show enough this season to prove to the Giants that they can hit consistently at the major league level and Blanco is superior to both of them in terms of defense. Therefore, these two players don’t make much sense to start in left field. That leaves Perez. He has the greatest chance out of anyone in the Giants organization of becoming the starting left fielder.
Perez is extremely talented defensively. He can play all three outfield spots, and he has great range because of his speed. He also has a strong arm and can throw out anyone on the basepaths.
Jun. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: San Francisco Giants outfielder Juan Perez hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, he struggled when he was called up the first time by the Giants, but he started to improve near the end of the season. In September, he hit .277 with one home run and five RBIs. Overall, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position, and he hit .333 against right-handed pitchers. If Perez continues to improve his hitting and has a strong spring training, he could possibly be the starting left fielder for the Giants.
One other possibility within the Giants organization is Brandon Belt. The Giants are one of many teams that are considering signing seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann. The Giants have discussed moving Buster Posey to first base for a long time, in order to preserve his health. By signing McCann, the Giants would officially move Posey to first base and move Belt to left field. Belt, defensively, is an elite first baseman and, if he gets moved to left field, hopefully his stellar defense would translate.
Outside of the Giants organization, here are some left fielders, or outfielders in general, the Giants could pursue in free agency, but who would probably come at a higher price than some others.
One possibility is Shin-Soo Choo, who is coming off of a fantastic 2013 season with the Cincinnati Reds when he hit .285 and had 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, a .423 OBP and a .462 slugging percentage. He would be a great addition to this Giants team because he’s fast and he’d provide the Giants with a much-needed left-handed power bat. The 31-year-old might come at too high of a price though. His agent, Scott Boras, thinks Choo could command a multi-year deal worth $90 million to $100 million. The asking price might not be quite that high, but, regardless, Choo might be out of the Giants’ price range.
Sep 3, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) prepares to bat during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Another outfielder the Giants could pursue, who might be a pricey signing, is Curtis Granderson. The 32-year-old has played center field for the majority of his career, but he will most likely move to a corner outfield spot in the coming seasons because of his age and recent troubles with injuries. He was injured for much of this past season and only played in 61 games. Like Choo, Granderson would also provide the Giants with a left-handed power bat. He had consecutive 40-plus home run seasons for the New York Yankees in 2011-12. Even if he did miss most of this past season, he will still probably command a large contract because of his serious power.
Here are a couple players the Giants could sign in a lower price range. The first option is David Murphy. Last season with the Texas Rangers, he hit .220, had 13 home runs, 45 RBI, had a .282 OBP and a .374 slugging percentage. However, he hit .291 in 2010, he hit .275 in 2011, and he hit .304 in 2012. He didn’t exactly have a compelling stat line in 2013, but he could be a great fit for the Giants. The 32-year-old could provide some speed and left-handed power and he’s an excellent left fielder defensively. In addition, he would come at a lower price than the two other previously mentioned free agents because he’s coming off a poor season.
Oct 8, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) hits a RBI single during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox of game four of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Another option is David DeJesus. The 33-year-old is a versatile outfielder who can play all three outfield positions well. Last season, he played for the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays and he hit .251, had eight home runs, 38 RBI, five stolen bases had a .327 OBP, and a .402 slugging percentage. His stat line isn’t super flashy, but he does a lot of things well. He’s versatile, he’s solid defensively, he can provide some speed and some power, he can hit for average, and he finds ways to get on base. He would be a great addition to the Giants.
The Giants have many options to find their starting left fielder for the 2014 season. They can look within the organization, whether that means starting Juan Perez or moving Belt to left field after signing someone like Brian McCann. They can also look at the free agent market and go for a big-name, high-price signing, such as Choo or Granderson. They could also sign a free agent at a lower cost, which would be more of a low risk move with the potential for a high reward. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants decide to address this.