COMMENTARY | Left field was a black hole for the San Francisco Giants in what was a nightmare 2013 season. They need more production from the position if they want to contend again in 2014.
The Giants, though, aren't really the kind of team to make splashy free-agent signings anymore, so names like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury probably aren't going to be wearing black and orange next year. And even though he'd make a lot of sense for the Giants , even Carlos Beltran is probably too pricey for them. So what's left?
Here's a look at a few of the players the Giants might target this winter. Fair warning: It's a pretty depressing list.
Mike Morse: Morse is coming off of a terrible offensive season, posting a .215/.270/.381 line with 13 HR and 27 RBIs. He battled injuries last year and looked nothing like the hitter that slugged 31 homers in 2011. Still, Morse could provide something the Giants crave at a reasonable price: right-handed power. If he's willing to take a one-year deal, don't be surprised if the Giants seriously consider making him Gregor Blanco's platoon partner while banking on a bounce-back year at the plate.
Chris Young: He's always been a high strikeout/low average guy, but Young had a truly awful year with Oakland in 2013. He managed to hit only .200/280/.379 and wasn't his usual dynamic self on defense, either. Like Morse, Young could probably be had on a short, make-good deal as he tries to reestablish himself as a major-league hitter. And like Morse, he could provide right-handed power in a platoon with Blanco. Young is a far superior defensive player and would likely be more adept at handling AT&T Park's tricky outfield.
Marlon Byrd: After having a career year at age 35, Byrd will likely be looking for a multi-year deal from a team and is someone the Giants should probably avoid. He's been suspended for PED use in the past and has close ties with the founder of BALCO, two huge red flags. And the Giants shouldn't be in the business of handing out multi-year contracts to 35-year-olds, either. Here's hoping they aren't swayed by his impressive 2013 campaign.
Nate McClouth: He's put together two decent campaigns with the Orioles after being picked off the baseball scrap heap, and he'd be relatively cheap. But McClouth is too similar of a player to Blanco for the Giants to seriously consider him as the answer in left.
Andres Torres: Just kidding. I hope.
Once you get past the big names on the list, there's a considerable drop off in talent for free-agent outfielders this year. I'd bet heavily on the Giants taking a chance on Morse or Young and crossing their fingers, and if they can't sign one of them they'll look to the trade market. If the Giants hope to fill the void in left next year, they're going to have to get creative.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer whose work covering the Giants has appeared on sites such as Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew. You can follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
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