Free agency starts in over a month but the offseason chatter is beginning to take shape. Bob Nightengale of USA Today revealed on Sunday morning that the SF Giants are likely to be in play for power-hitting outfielder Aaron Judge and middle infielder Trea Turner.
Nightengale: SF Giants expected to pursue Aaron Judge and Trea Turner in free agency
I will admit that any Nightengale reporting should be taken with a grain of salt. I do not think that this is coming from within the Giants organization, but rather he is connecting the dots between the Giants' need for star talent and how much salary cap room they will have this winter.
That said, Nightengale is not the first national writer to speculate on the Giants' interest on either Judge or Turner. Robert Murray of FanSided and Buster Olney of ESPN have suggested in recent weeks that either player or both could be a fit for the Giants. This is one of those situations where there seems to be a lot of smoke with the Giants heading into the offseason.
Both players would be excellent fits for San Francisco. Judge is coming off of a historic season in which he registered a .311/.425/.686 line (211 OPS+) with 62 home runs, 131 RBI, and 133 runs in 696 plate appearances. His home run output established a new American League record that was previously set by New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 1961 when he blasted 61 homers.
Judge earned his fourth All-Star nod in 2022 and will receive heavy consideration for the AL MVP award. He turned down a massive extension offer from the Yankees last winter, and that is a bet that is going to pay off handsomely for the 30-year-old outfielder as he will earn a huge payday in free agency.
On the other hand, Trea Turner is in the midst of yet another stellar campaign. The Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop recorded a .298/.343/.466 line (121 OPS+) with 21 home runs, 100 RBI, and 101 runs scored in 708 plate appearances this season. This includes 27 stolen bases in 30 attempts, so he brings good baserunning instincts and speed that the Giants desperately need.
Of course, it bears mentioning that the Giants already have a shortstop in Brandon Crawford, who will be entering the final year of a two-year, $32 million extension. Would they ask him to switch positions if they signed Turner? It is possible, but Turner has plenty of experience at second base and in center field, so the 29-year-old infielder could move around the field for one season while Crawford provides stability at a key position.
Few big-market teams will have as much salary cap flexibility as the Giants this winter, so they are going to be connected to just about every top free agent. Whether there is substance to all or any of those rumors remains to be seen, but there are plenty of directions they can go this winter to upgrade an aging roster.