If the SF Giants are trying not to break the bank on this Black Friday, here are a few players that could help the team on small deals.
While many scour the internet for socially distanced Black Friday deals, plenty of MLB teams are hoping to find a steal of their own this offseason in free agency. The SF Giants have plenty of money to spend but are probably more than a major piece or two away from contention. They will need to find production from unexpected places as well to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Luckily for them, this free-agent market is undoubtedly favorable to teams. With a slew of impending non-tenders, even more players are going to join an already deep free-agent class. In the spirit of Black Friday shopping, which players already on the open market seem poised to demand relatively small deals, but could make major contributions?
SF Giants Cheap Free-Agent Target #1: Garrett Richards
The Giants could complete a major trade this offseason to upgrade their starting rotation, but even if they find an ace, the back of the rotation could use some improvements as well. Garrett Richards has had his career ravaged by injuries, but the 32-year old has nearly always been an effective pitcher when healthy. In 128 career starts, Richards holds a 3.56 ERA with solid peripherals across the board.
Far from a dominant pitcher with the Padres last season, Richards was still an effective mid-rotation starter. However, given his age, injury history, and the market, he’ll probably be paid like a four or five starter. Betting on health is never an easy proposition, but Richards could very easily sign a two-year, $10 million contract or one-year, $5 million deal and end up solidifying a team’s rotation.
SF Giants Cheap Free-Agent Target #2: Asdrubal Cabrera
Of the three names here, Asdrubal Cabrera probably has the least upside. However, even after adding Jason Vosler, an intriguing young corner bat, he could provide some insurance on the infield. The 14-year veteran has quietly been one of the most consistent players in baseball. Over the past six seasons, Cabrera has hit .267/.330/.448, played in at least 80% of his team’s games every year, and never posted an OPS below .740 in a season.
The former shortstop may not be able to handle his original defensive position anymore, but he’s a solid third and first baseman and should be playable at second base. A switch-hitter with no obvious platoon splits, he’s well suited to spell starters throughout the season or fill in if they suffer an injury. The 35-year old is obviously far removed from any big payday but could be a valuable final piece for the Giants offense, especially if they suffer any injuries.
SF Giants Cheap Free-Agent Target #3: Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella has been far better defensively in recent years than Cabrera, although he’s more competent at second base than third. However, the left-handed hitter does see a pretty steep decline in his career production against same-sided pitchers. Luckily, with players like Evan Longoria, Wilmer Flores, and Donovan Solano already on the roster, that’s not an insurmountable problem.
Over the past two seasons, La Stella has appeared in 135 games and taken 549 plate appearances. He’s bashed 21 home runs, walked more than he’s struck out (47 walks to 40 strikeouts), and posted an .827 OPS. In fact, La Stella’s rise from solid rotational piece early in his career, to dominant platoon bat mirrors some of what Flores showed prior to having a career year with the Giants in 2020. If they could find another player to do that from the left side, it could help their lineup take another step forward.
While the SF Giants have plenty of room to spend this offseason if they are looking for some cheaper options to fill roster holes, Garrett Richards, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Tommy La Stella all have something to offer.