What move should the Giants make first?
By Dzintars Grinfelds
The San Francisco Giants have a variety of avenues they could take in improving their roster for 2020, but what should the first move be?
Wednesday marked a big day in baseball as MLB rosters were trimmed, leaving some players designated for assignment. With that, a number of new names landed on the open market, which means a number of new names to look at as potential signings to add to the San Francisco Giants growing to-do list.
Many fans would argue that re-signing Madison Bumgarner belongs atop that to-do list. However, the team is also without a true closer, and there are areas of potential improvement in the lineup, as well.
At 30 years old and still pitching deep into games effectively, Bumgarner is in his prime. But with all of the accomplishments and accolades he has earned — three-time World Series champion, four-time All-Star, World Series MVP, the five-inning save in 2014 — there will be a lot of convincing needed to bring him back to the Giants, and it goes beyond offering a high-value, long-term deal.
There are multiple options for the Giants’ closing role on the open market worth taking a chance on, as well as some intriguing internal options already on the team’s roster.
And then there is the lineup itself. The Giants have talented options for their corner outfield options with Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, and others, but none are a proven major league slugger.
With all of that in mind, where should the team begin?
For the Giants to get help in the areas outlined above and become competitive, their first move should be bringing in a slugger who can be a long-term staple in the rotation.
It may be a simple-sounding idea and one that every team in the MLB would love to do, but for the spot the Giants are in right now, it’s critical. With Buster Posey and Evan Longoria aging, and Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt becoming less productive, there is no game-changing threat in the middle of the Giants’ lineup.
However, there are available free agents who could provide San Francisco multiple years of effective power hitting. Some of those readily available options include Anthony Rendon, Nick Castellanos, Yasiel Puig, Marcell Ozuna, and Ryon Healy.
How does adding a young, big bat on a long-term deal help?
Besides the obvious addition of the power, there are other benefits that could be leveraged with such an addition.
No pitcher — starter, middle reliever, or closer — wants to pitch without run support and a chance to win. With Will Smith and Sam Dyson both gone, the Giants will need a formidable lineup to help ease the pressure in later innings. Adding a slugger eases those tensions for any starter or reliever.
Signing a power hitter to a long-term deal may provide one extra bargaining chip in Bumgarner negotiations, too. He signed a team-friendly contract in early 2012 when the Giants were trending in the right direction. If he’s going to be part of the plans moving forward, a seismic move could show that the Giants are making strides toward playing October once again.
Some of the current free-agent options that fit the suggested mold, like Rendon and Healy, are corner infielders, which would require the Giants to find a trade partner to take on Longoria or Belt. Even if the Giants make that trade and accept a loss of value, the potential longer-term reward of adding a slugger would be worthwhile.
Landing the kind of slugger the Giants need will not be cheap or easy, nor will it pay immediate dividends as one bat will not be a cure-all. But demonstrating to free agents that the Giants are building for the near future will certainly make San Francisco a more enticing destination.