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.
|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.