COMMENTARY | The San Francisco Giants seem set on spending money to improve their pitching staff this winter, and less set on spending money to improve their situation in left field.
They seem content/resigned on going with a platoon of Gregor Blanco and another player in 2014, even though the same strategy blew up in their faces last season. Isn't that the definition of insanity? Maybe I'm wrong.
Anyway, having already covered the potential low-end free agents the Giants may target to split time with Blanco, let's turn our attention to the trade market. If the Giants were to address their hole in left field via trade, what players might they target?
I'm leaving off names like Giancarlo Stanton because a) the Giants don't have the pieces to trade for premiere hitters, and b) those players probably aren't going anywhere, anyway. The end result is a list of capable hitters who'd likely help the Giants next season, even if the names aren't very exciting.
Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins: Willingham is coming off of a disastrous 2013 season that saw him hit .208/.342/.368 with only 14 HR and 48 RBIs. He's in the last year of a contract that will pay him $7 million in 2014, and the Twins may be willing to move his salary off the books. Willingham dealt with injuries last year and has averaged close to 30 HR per season in his career, so the potential for a rebound is there even though he'll be 35 this season. He'd be a decent platoon partner for Blanco if the price is right, providing right-handed power with the outside chance of taking the left field job and running with it.
Bret Gardner, New York Yankees: A free agent at the end of the year, Gardner could bat at the top of the lineup and allow the Giants to move Angel Pagan to the middle of the order. He doesn't offer much in the way of power, but Gardner is a more consistent version of Blanco at the plate with comparable speed. The Yankees may be open to dealing Gardner, depending on what they do in free agency and he's a player who'd make sense for the Giants.
Justin Ruggiano, Miami Marlins: Not a sexy name by any means, but Ruggiano has slugged 31 HR over the past two seasons and fits the bill as the type of outfielder the Giants may be seeking. He's a streaky hitter who strikes out a lot, but he hits LHP reasonably well and has pop in his bat. He's approaching his 32nd birthday and is due for a bump in salary, so the Marlins will likely listen to offers on him and the cost should be reasonable.
Chris Denorfia, San Diego Padres: A solid all-around player who may be tough to pry from a division rival, Denorfia would likely replace Blanco as the starting left fielder rather than platoon with him. Denorfia turns 33 this season and is in the last year of his contract, so the Padres may be apt to move him in the right deal. He's a player who'd likely be dealt in-season, depending on the Padres' record when the trade deadline comes around.
Nate Schierholtz, Chicago Cubs: Crazier things have happened, but it's hard imagining Schierholtz coming back to San Francisco after complaining about how he was used by Bruce Bochy on his way out of town. Still, Schierholtz has the ability to be a dangerous hitter in spurts and is an ideal platoon candidate. He's already complained about being a part-time player once with the Giants, though.
Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays: Nope.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer. His work on baseball has appeared on sites such as Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Sports Big League Stew. Follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
- Sports & Recreation
- San Francisco Giants
- Gregor Blanco
- Josh Willingham