Hunter Pence is reportedly recovering well, putting on a show in batting practice yesterday. Broken bones usually heal without incident, and Norichika Aoki will eventually come back. The Giants will not have an outfield apocalypse all season, and we'll laugh about these times.
But what if the outfield apocalypse never ends? What if there are setbacks and disappointments? Ryan Lollis just might not save us all, you know.
To that end, the Giants are doing what you would expect and exploring the outfield trade market, according to Buster Olney.
SF has looked for OF help. Some players discussed, among others, Cameron Maybin and Gerardo Parra. 12 HR for the SF outfielders in '15.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 6, 2015
Part of me dislikes the mention of 12 homers for the collective outfielders, considering that Aoki has been a net positive without dingers, and that the reason for Pence's power shortage was some dumb Cubs pitcher, not anything to do with his talent level. On the other hand, the entire Giants outfield has hit a dozen homers combined this year. Torii Hunter has hit 12 home runs this year. You can see how the Giants might be interested in an outfielder.
Parra is a free agent having something of a career renaissance, hitting .308/.345/.477 with seven homers. The Giants wouldn't be getting him for dingers, though. He's a left-handed hitter with a career high of 10. He would be acquired more for his all-around game, which includes speed and defense. Think of him as a rich man's Gregor Blanco, who is kind of a rich man's fourth outfielder in the first place.
Maybin is also in the middle of a renaissance, hitting .294/.363/.416, but he's owed $9 million for next year (with a $9 million option after that). His defensive numbers are confusing and awful, but he's finally hitting the way he was when the Padres locked him up. I'll assume the defensive numbers are a hiccup, and that Maybin is an overqualified fourth outfielder if the Giants are healthy. He has reverse platoon splits, so he's not exactly the lefty thumper the Giants need. Plus, if you're looking for dingers, you aren't going to find them here, either.
Which brings us to the point of the outfield search. Assuming the Giants aren't going to trade for, say, Carlos Gomez or some other All-Star, the outfielders who are available are going to be of the Parra/Maybin genre. This leads us to some simple truths:
1. The Giants, if healthy, have a very solid outfield situation, with three good starters and a very competent fourth outfielder.
2. The Giants should be interested in an outfielder like Maybin or Parra, only if the "if healthy" disclaimer in the first point is a huge concern. Not just with Pence and Aoki, but with Pagan.
Also, Pagan’s left knee is an absolute mess. You should see the contraption he has on it just to play. #sfgiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) July 6, 2015
3. If the Giants acquire an outfielder, they should do so as a tacit admission that Pagan needs more time off. Possibly a lot more time off.
If Aoki and Pence are coming back as planned, and if the Giants have absolutely no plans to rest/sit Pagan unless his kneecap literally bursts through his skin like a little alien, there's no reason to mess with players like Parra or Maybin.
If they're really looking for someone to start 40 or 50 percent of the time, well, sure. Explore away.
I'm still holding out hope for some sort of super-ace, acquired for Joaquin Arias and two D- prospects. If that doesn't happen for whatever reason, I guess another outfielder makes sense. But only if the Giants are a) scared they aren't getting one of their starters back or b) really willing to explore the idea of a new center fielder.
Other than that, if they're just looking for a Justin Maxwell replacement, there's no reason to go expensive. Fifth outfielders shouldn't be that luxurious.