With the calendar ready to flip to December, MLB Free Agency has started picking up as expected. B.J. Upton has been the biggest name to switch teams thus far, and his deal may set the market for outfielders.
Upton landed a huge, 5 year, $75 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, signaling their moving on from Michael Bourn, and really setting a precedent for outfielders in this free agent market. I mean, Upton is a nice player with some upside and is about to hit his prime, but $15M/per for a guy who hits .240 and doesn't carry an OPS over .800? Granted, he's a skilled defender in center, and does have 20+ home run power, but he was hitting in a live yard in Tampa and never really hit like everyone expected he would. With Hunter getting $13M a year earlier this month from Detroit, and now Upton getting this deal, it certainly helps out Angel Pagan's status. Maybe he will find that 4 year/$50M deal he's been reportedly seeking after all. He doesn't have the power potential that Upton has, he does everything else as well or better than B.J.With the way things are shaping up, I am getting an even stronger feeling that the Giants will end up signing Shane Victorino. I mean, as far as skill sets, Michael Bourn really isn't that far off from Gregor Blanco, whereas Victorino is a little more potent offensively and still has that speed on the base paths and excellent range in the outfield. Not to mention, he can hit in different spots in the order.
Now, whether it's Bourn, Pagan, Victorino or someone else we've yet to mention, the Giants need a center fielder/leadoff hitter. That's not the only help this team could use in it's outfield though. They have to be looking at corner OF options as well. They essentially need two starting outfielders right now, and with their lack of trading resources, they'll likely have to do it via free agency. That's been the tough spot for Sabean in recent years, dating back to the bad deal he gave Zito. Even if they sign one of those three mentioned to play center, they need they're reigning Champs and need to start improving rather than penny-pinching. There are two really intriguing options out there though in my mind, and those two are Nick Swisher and former Giant, Cody Ross. As far as the non-Giant free agents go, Swisher would probably be my top target if I were Sabean, but as the top corner outfielder on the market, and seeing what the others have gotten thus far, he's going to get a huge deal. I could really see Swish fitting right in with San Francisco though, and thriving here. I mean, how sweet would a Swisher-Pagan/Victorino-Pence outfield be!? Ross makes a lot of sense as well, seeing his history with the Giants and the way he rebounded from his injury-plagued 2011 season.
We're also approaching the arbitration deadline which is in mid-December, and should start to see other names hit the market that may be viable options for the Giants in the outfield. One of which already has been non-tendered, former Giant Andres Torres. I'd take Torres back in a second, not as a starter and he really only makes sense if the Giants have some more right-handed power on the roster. If they went into next year with a Blanco-Torres-Pence starting outfield, they'd be in trouble. However, if they found a very good left fielder (Josh Hamilton anyone?), then I could even live with a Blanco/Torres platoon in center.
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