clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Giants' interest in Jimmy Rollins means they might not be done

If the Giants were interested in Jimmy Rollins, does that mean the team isn't done building the bench?

Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Most of what you'll read here is unhinged speculation. Most of the time, I'm just happy to have a topic to write about, so I'm always so thrilled to entertain whatever stray ideas flit through my head.

Occasionally, very occasionally, the stray ideas make sense. The headline from January 22:

The Giants should probably sign Jimmy Rollins

And the tweet a month later:

The Giants kinda sorta need a utility player who can be a reasonable option to pinch-hit in the late innings, and they kinda sorta need a utility player whose primary position is shortstop. They can get by with one or the other, but a player who could do both would be just peachy, thank you very much. It's debatable just how much hitting Rollins has left in him, considering he was 36 and mostly disappointing last year, but he ended the season strong, and there was a chance that he would take well to a part-time role after a 16-year grind of 140 starts nearly every season.

It's a moot point with Rollins on the White Sox now. And Juan Uribe went to the Indians, which was just about the last place he had a chance to start more games than he sat, so the Giants are down an option for the bat-first infielder, too. But the Giants' interest in both probably means what we suspected: The final piece of the bench puzzle might not be in camp yet.

So choose between these two options, fake general manager:

Option #1 is a shortstop, and he can't really hit. Let's call him Fieri Adrianzo, and he's widely known as the best fielder Italy has ever produced. He'll pinch hit if it's the 14th inning, or if Bruce Bochy emptied the bench before the seventh inning for some reason, but he's in there to play second or short in a pinch.

This wouldn't seem to be a priority with Brandon Crawford, Gold Glove shortstop, soaking up most of the innings, but you don't have to predict three different DL stints to want a real shortstop behind him. It's wise to not predict 162 starts from any player, and considering that infield defense should be one of the team's greatest strengths, there's value in the continuity that a glove-first utility player would offer.

This option is free, and the money saved can buy goods and/or services.

Option #2 is an infielder, but he can't play short. If you need someone to give Crawford a day off, or fill in for a minor injury, you'll either need to slide Matt Duffy over to short or start Kelby Tomlinson.

The tradeoff for that inelegant solution would be a much better bat off the bench. Conor Gillaspie might be the frontrunner for this job, and before you scoff, note that he's hit for a 115 OPS+ before in the majors. That's more major league success than just about anyone who could possibly be on the Giants' bench, save Gregor Blanco.

Casey McGehee signed with the Tigers this morning, so hands off. There's still another interesting option on the free agent market, though. David Freese doesn't fit as a starter anywhere, unless a rebuilding team wants him to be a clubhouse presence and/or an underwhelming trade chip in July. He would make the Braves, Reds, or Brewers better, but they would rather start a younger player, I'm guessing. The other 27 teams have a third baseman. It's a weird market for over-30 third basemen, apparently, and Uribe got the last chair.

Freese would instantly be the best bench bat on the Giants, if not the NL West. His career OPS+ is 112, and it was still 109 last year. He's still good for a dozen homers a year, and his defense is fine at third. It's borderline ludicrous that another team can't use him as a starter, but here we are.

This option costs money, of course. Because while Freese might not fit anywhere as a starting third baseman, there are probably 20 teams that would be interested in him as an overqualified contingency plan. Which means he wouldn't come on a minor-league deal or a one-year deal for the major league minimum. The money spent on Freese would count against the competitive-balance tax, and it might jimmy with the Giants' ability to make a substantial trade at the deadline.

He would be a mighty fine bench bat, though. Note that the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Nationals, Rays, Yankees, and White Sox could use Ian Desmond still, and that's before you get into the teams that could use him as a second baseman. If Freese is unrealistic, Desmond is a complete pipe dream.

Option #2 is realistically just Gillaspie or Grant Green at this point. But either one (or even Ramiro Pena or Hak-Ju Lee) would likely outhit Adrianzo, our hypothetical all-glove shortstop.

So do you prefer the glove in the hand, or the pinch hits in the bush? There's a poll. And if you're going to choose "other," you have to explain it. Don't be a weenie.