The San Francisco Giants need to target free-agent outfielders and sign one to add to their roster. They made only one very minor move for a relief pitcher at the recent trade deadline. However, this is still a rebuilding team and one glaring area to improve is in the outfield.
Let’s take a look at five potential free-agent options in the outfield that would be a good fit for the Giants. In addition to productivity, other factors for San Francisco Giants President Farhan Zaidi to consider are the age of each player and their salary situation. Zaidi’s history suggests that he will not give out lengthy contracts and in the Covid era, salaries will not escalate at the same rate that we have seen in the past.
Option 5: Enrique Hernandez
Kike’ Hernandez is the type of versatile player that the Giants often covet. He has experience playing all three outfield positions, as well as everywhere on the infield.
At the age of 29, Hernandez made $5.9 million in 2020. In 2019, he had 17 home runs and 64 RBI in only 414 at-bats. His slash line this past season of .230/.270/.410 was below par, but he is still a very good role player and could be a very good platoon option with Alex Dickerson in left field. The Giants could also use Hernandez in right field if Mike Yastrzemski is in center.
Hernandez can also fill in admirably at every infield position, which would be a huge asset for the Giants. In addition, signing Hernandez would mean his current team the Los Angeles Dodgers would lose a valuable utility player from their roster. Any time the Giants can take the Dodgers down a notch, it is a definite plus.
Option 4: Domingo Santana
Domingo Santana could be the type of bargain-basement addition that Zaidi has proven very adept at acquiring. His 2020 salary is only $1.5 million dollars and there is tremendous upside with him.
Santana had an abysmally poor season, which favors the Giants. He batted only .157, with two home runs and 12 RBI. His OPS of .583 is well below the average level, around .730.
Santana’s best year came in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit 30 home runs, with 85 RBI and a slash line of .278/.371/.505. His OBP of .876 was outstanding.
Santana would bring a powerful right-handed bat to the Giants lineup and could be an excellent platoon partner with the left-hand hitting Dickerson. Santana is a below-average defender, so having an extra outfielder that can be a late-inning defensive replacement would also be necessary.
Santana’s 2021 option was declined by the Indians after such a poor season. His price tag will remain low.
Option 3: Joc Pederson
Joc Pederson had a down year in 2020 and was often the odd man out in a crowded Dodger outfield. His slash line of .190/.285/.397 left a lot to be desired. However, in 2019, Pederson showed what he can do as he had an OPS of .876, with 36 home runs and 74 RBI.
Although the Giants would prefer adding a right-handed bat to their outfield, if the price is right, Pederson would be an excellent platoon partner in center field with Mauricio Dubon. With a career OPS of .849 against right-handed pitching, Pederson would be an excellent power threat. His OPS against lefties is only .576, so a platoon with Dubon would be ideal.
Pederson is an excellent defensive player and can play all three outfield positions. He is also a local boy, from Palo Alto, just a few miles south of San Francisco. It would be a popular move for the Giants to bring Pederson back to the Bay Area and the return home could revive Pederson’s career. In addition, taking him away from the rival Dodgers would be an added benefit.
In 2020, Pederson made $7.75 million and coming off a subpar campaign would not be in line for a hefty raise. At the age of 28, the Giants can afford to be more aggressive with Pederson.
Option 2: George Springer
George Springer has been a key member of the Houston Astros since he broke in with them in 2014. He is a three-time All-Star and two-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award. At a salary of $21 million dollars in 2020, he is also the most expensive of the potential free-agent outfielders that could hit the market.
Springer got off to a slow start this year but came on much stronger in the second half of the season. His slash line ended up being a very respectable .265/.359/.540. Springer hit 14 home runs and had 32 RBI. His OPS of .899 was also quite good. In 2019, Springer hit 39 home runs, with 96 RBI and an OPS of .874.
Springer will be 31 years old next season, so offering him any more than a two or three-year deal is unwise.
Option 1: Marcell Ozuna
This past winter, the Atlanta Braves signed Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million dollar deal. Ozuna was undoubtedly looking to have a good season and get a long-term, big-money contract heading into 2021. Ozuna had an excellent year, but unfortunately for him, the gamble will not pay off as handsomely as it could have, due to the lower revenues caused by the Covid-19 situation.
At the age of 29, Ozuna had a fine season. His OPS of 1.067 ranks him third in all of baseball. He ranked first in the National League with 18 home runs and 56 RBI.
Ozuna is primarily a left fielder and would be a defensive liability in right or center. Nevertheless, his bat would give the Giants a legitimate threat in the middle of their batting order.
Important Winter for the Giants
The San Francisco Giants have played a lot better than expected this past season and have some decent pieces in place. In addition, several large contracts will be coming off the books by the end of 2021. This will give the Giants more flexibility to target higher level players in free agency and via trade.
Team President Farhan Zaidi and GM Scott Harris must continue to bolster the roster. The Giants have rebuilt their farm system, which the best it’s been in many years. However, most of their top young players are still a year or two away from the majors. Strengthening the starting pitching will be a priority and adding a few key pieces this winter will give the Giants a strong foundation and also allow them to compete in 2021.
Embed from Getty Images