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The glut of free agent outfielders could still help the Giants

The Giants are probably done, but look at how few teams are desperate for outfield help right now.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the week, Buster Olney of ESPN wrote about the buyer-friendly outfield market, and he mentioned something interesting about the Giants:

Given the volume of outfielders, evaluators figure they'll have a shot at somebody good as the prices drop.

Technically, I'm an evaluator and an absolute idiot at the same time, so take this with a grain of salt. But it's safe to assume he talks to smarter evaluators, and then wonder if he's right. Will the prices drop?

Start with who's left.

  • Alex Gordon
  • Yoenis Cespedes
  • Justin Upton
  • Dexter Fowler
  • Denard Span
  • Gerardo Parra
  • Austin Jackson
  • Steve Pearce
  • Matt Joyce
  • Marlon Byrd
  • Will Venable
  • Alejandro de Aza

de Aza ... de Aza ... de Aza ... it rings a bell, but I can't place it. Regardless, the Giants should be interested in the first five players up there in some capacity, maybe the first six or seven, depending on how loose you are with your evaluations.

Yet I respect their decision not to spend $100 million out of complete panic, especially because Gregor Blanco is pretty okay. I see three great fits (Cespedes, Upton, Fowler), one definite improvement (Gordon), and someone who's quite similar to Blanco, at least for 2016 (Span). Considering the money they'll all want, though, they might not be great fits.

Unless they are. Here are the projected starting outfielders for each team. I bolded the players that I would spend money to improve on if I owned each respective team. It was a quick look and your mileage my vary.

LF CF RF 4th
Angels Daniel Nava Mike Trout Kole Calhoun Craig Gentry
A's Coco Crisp Billy Burns Josh Reddick Sam Fuld
Astros Colby Rasmus Carlos Gomez George Springer Jake Marisnick
Blue Jays Ben Revere Kevin Pillar Jose Bautista Michael Saunders
Braves Hector Olivera Ender Inciarte Nick Markakis Nick Swisher
Brewers Khris Davis Domingo Santana Ryan Braun Keon Broxton
Cardinals Matt Holliday Randal Grichuk Stephen Piscotty Tommy Pham
Cubs Kyle Schwarber Jason Heyward Jorge Soler Chris Coghlan
Diamondbacks David Peralta A.J. Pollock Yasmany Tomas Socrates Brito
Dodgers Andre Ethier Joc Pederson Yasiel Puig Carl Crawford
Giants Gregor Blanco Angel Pagan Hunter Pence Mac Williamson
Indians Rajai Davis Michael Brantley Lonnie Chisenhall Collin Cowgill
Mariners Nori Aoki Leonys Martin Seth Smith Franklin Gutierrez
Marlins Christian Yelich Marcell Ozuna Giancarlo Stanton Ichiro!
Mets Michael Conforto Juan Lagares Curtis Granderson Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Nationals Jayson Werth Michael Taylor Bryce Harper Matt den Dekker
Orioles Hyun-soo Kim Adam Jones L.J. Hoes Nolad Reimold
Padres Jon Jay Melvin Upton, Jr. Matt Kemp Jabari Blash
Phillies Cody Asche Odubel Herrera Aaron Altherr Peter Bourjos
Pirates Starling Marte Andrew McCutchen Gregory Polanco Jake Goebbert
Rangers Josh Hamilton Delino Deshields, Jr. Shin-Soo Choo Justin Ruggiano
Rays Desmond Jennings Kevin Kiermaier Steven Souza Mikie Mahtook
Red Sox Rusney Castillo Jackie Bradley, Jr. Mookie Betts Chris Young
Reds Scott Schebler Billy Hamilton Jay Bruce Adam Duvall!
Rockies Corey Dickerson Charlie Blackmon Carlos Gonzalez Brandon Barnes
Royals Jarrod Dyson Lorenzo Cain Paulo Orlando Reymond Fuentes
Tigers Tyler Collins Anthony Gose J.D. Martinez Cameron Maybin
Twins Miguel Sano Byron Buxton Eddie Rosario Oswaldo Arcia
White Sox Melky Cabrera Adam Eaton Avisail Garcia J.B. Schuck
Yankees Brett Gardner Jacoby Ellsbury Carlos Beltran Aaron Hicks

Now, just because I would spend the money to improve Lonnie Chisenhall, that doesn't mean the Indians would. They're involved in all sorts of trade rumors with their starting pitchers, even though they're not too far away from being the 2010 Giants. They just need a Cody Ross. But they're in the middle of those trade rumors because they don't want to spend. They're not likely to sign Justin Upton for a billion dollars or so.

You can do that for a lot of teams. The Angels could improve on Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry, sure. But they also just signed them. The Twins could improve on Eddie Rosario, agreed, but they're not exactly a nine-figure kind of team when it comes to free agents.

There are 12 teams with a bolded player up there, but one of them is the Mets, who aren't going to spend a lot of money. The Red Sox certainly don't need to spend to replace Rusney Castillo, and they probably won't. The Orioles are focused more on Chris Davis than any of those outfielders, so they probably aren't deep into the market. The Cardinals have already ruled out the "dynamic" free agents, though, like the Giants, that could change if the prices drop. Still, Piscotty was impressive for them last year, so their urgency is probably overstated.

No, I count two teams that I expect to spend (Tigers, Royals) and one that just might (White Sox), with a whole bunch of mystery teams lying in the weeds, like the Giants. And you're suddenly understanding why Colby Rasmus took the qualifying offer from the Astros.

I'm not saying the Giants are shoo-ins to sign a free agent outfielder, but they still have a chance. And if the Tigers blow the doors off for Cespedes, the Royals re-sign Gordon, and the White Sox stun the market with Upton, where's the best fit for Dexter Fowler? I see a lot of decent fits for him, but there certainly aren't any perfect ones.

The offseason might be Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, but I'm still curious about this outfield market. The 2016 Giants already look fairly deep. There's a chance, though, that they could get deeper.