The San Francisco Giants have a lot to think about before the start of spring training next February, and already have been making some moves. They've signed Melky Cabrera and traded away Jonathan Sanchez, extended Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean, re-signed Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, and have stated their interest in signing Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to long term deals.
Now with the Winter Meetings upon us, GM Brian Sabean could possibly try some wheeling and dealing to acquire some cheap talent or free up some cash. Will he be jabber-jawing with the other managers or simply sitting back and take it as a mini vacation? Let's take a look at some of the things he could be squawking about in Dallas.
Acquiring a 'Big Bat'
It's seems that with the Giants setting their budget next year to around $130 million they will be a bit handcuffed with albatross contracts to Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand still on the books (Zito owed $19 MM in 2012, $20 MM in 2013, $7 MM buyout after 2013, Rowand $13.6 MM in 2012), and the desire to lock of Timmy and Cain for the long haul could hinder them further. With teams like the Red Sox interested in him, the signing of the Melk man and the lack of a long term contract in San Francisco, I'd be willing to bet we won't be back.
If Buster Posey can have a full, productive season, Aubrey Huff comes out from behind his own shadow, and Pablo Sandoval repeats his performance of 2011, they could have some dangerous hitters in their lineup. Carlos would be nice, but I don't see it happening.
'Kicking the Tires' on Free Agents
Albert Pujols. Prince Fielder. Jose Reyes. All guys the Giants likely won't even try to touch, no matter how badly the fans might want them to. There are a few lower tier guys available, and shortstop also remains a glaring need for them as Brandon Crawford simply hasn't been progressing that much at the plate (.204 BA, .288 OBP). The Giants have showed interest in Alex Gonzalez, though he too is considered somewhat of a liability at the plate (.241 BA in 2011, .270 OBP) and about an equivalent with the leather.
I'd expect Sabean to 'kick' around about a few free agents, though probably not a whole lot will come from it.
Signing Lincecum and Cain Longterm
The Giants and Lincecum have already had some discussions, though Timmy has already turned down a 4 year deal, and is looking for either a 1-2 year contract or an 8 year contract, according to John Heyman. Cain will likely be easier to re-sign, but there is another pitcher affecting these discussions as well; closer Brian Wilson. Wilson is under the Giants arbitration control until 2013, but if push comes to shove money wise, he could become the odd man out as he is set to earn $8.5 million next season.
Tough to gauge what will come of this at this point, though I'd like to believe that Lincecum and Cain will be in Black and Orange for a while longer.
Looking to the Minors
The Giants signed minor league outfielder Gregor Blanco earlier in the offseason, signaling some possible interest in fast-tracking speedy center fielder Gary Brown to the majors. Getting Brown in the majors as fast as possible is a great idea if you ask me, giving them a legitimate speedster and leadoff hitter (especially with fan favorite Darren Ford in Seattle now), even more so than Melky Cabrera. Young guys like Brandon Belt and Brett Pill could likely wind up on the starting lineup next season (Belt most definitely), but it will be interesting to see what happens with guys like Hector Sanchez.
Sabes knows his farm system has some pretty ripe talent, the question is when he will pull the trigger.
Can Freddy Sanchez return to his level of play in 2010 before his injury?
Where's Dan Runzler going to end up?
Do the Giants need another backup catcher?
Will Nate Schierholtz get some more playing time?
What about Pablo's contract talks?
Could Cody Ross come back?
Should be a lot of Sabean to think about down in big D this week, let's see just what comes from it.
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