San Francisco Giants: Potential free-agent targets to improve infield depth
By Jeff Young
The San Francisco Giants may not be major players in free agency this offseason, but they will still be in the market to improve their roster.
Specifically, middle infield depth is one glaring issue that the San Francisco Giants will need to address.
Brandon Crawford and Mauricio Dubon will likely start next season as the incumbent starters at shortstop and second base, respectively.
In addition to that duo, Donovan Solano should return as one of the utility infielders backing up both middle infield spots.
Crawford posted a .228/.304/.350 line for a 75 OPS + in 560 plate appearances last season, whereas Dubon recorded a .279/.312/.442 line for a 99 OPS+ in just 109 plate appearances.
Solano was one of the bigger surprises of the season with the bat. In 228 plate appearances, the utility infielder hit .330 with a .815 OPS. Prior to 2019, Solano batted .257 with a .636 OPS in over 1,100 plate appearances. Solano had a nice season in 2019, but it would be asking a lot for him to produce similar numbers in 2020.
Despite Dubon’s nice run in September and Solano’s strong performance, the Giants still need to bolster their middle infield depth. This is especially true considering that Crawford’s all-around performance appears to be regressing.
As a result, the Giants will likely find themselves in the market for middle infielders. This year’s free-agent class is light on superstar talent outside of Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole, but there are plenty of useful middle infielders available.
As the San Francisco Giants assess the potential free-agent options, they should focus on making good baseball moves that upgrade roster rather than trying to make splashy, win-now moves.
When the New York Yankees signed D.J. LeMahieu last offseason, there was not an obvious spot for him in the starting lineup. He was a solid player, but there was not necessarily a fit for him when he signed. However, the injuries quickly piled up for the Yankees, and LeMahieu became a key cog in the lineup as he batted .327 with an .893 OPS.
The Giants need to focus on signing that type of player. LeMahieu has a good bat, and gave his team flexibility by being able to handle multiple positions.
Heading into this offseason, the San Francisco Giants should have plenty of payroll space to work with. Though, it is unlikely that they will extinguish all of their resources in one offseason. More than likely, the Giants will look to upgrade the roster without breaking the bank.
Versatile players who fit this description include Brock Holt, Howie Kendrick, and Ben Zobrist.
Let’s take a closer look at that trio of potential targets.